It is the peak of the holiday season and all of us at the Coffee Center wish you a very Merry Christmas. However, at this time of year, harvest season is also in full swing in most producing countries. One of our Ph.D students, Taya Brown, has been investigating the lifestyle of several small coffee farmers (cooperatives) in Yepocapa, Guatemala about the beans produced and cup quality.
On Dec 7, 2017, Brown conducted a workshop in which she was able to document and study the stories of these cooperatives to define specific issues between the process of harvesting the bean and processing the drink.
“Right now, once the coffee [beans] leave [the cooperatives’] sight, they have no further connection to them,” Brown says. “It’s important that the farmers are better represented along the supply chain. Telling their story can also add something to the coffee as a product.”
One concern is that “no farmer currently has the ability to sell by quality or variety so, though they want to have high quality coffee, there isn’t a lot of incentive to change varieties or farming methods.”
Another obstacle lies in the course of payment for the farmers.
“The processed coffee is sold to larger contractors who don’t pay until the season is over, sometime in April. That means the farmers have to wait two to six months for payment,” Brown says.
The project is based on six smallholder farmer associations in and surrounding San Pedro Yepocapa, Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Brown has been seriously conducting research on it since June 2017.
“My research is to uncover these issues so development projects can better suit the needs of smallholder coffee farmers in the future.”
Speaking of the future, the new year is approaching and the Coffee Center is excited to enter its fourth year of establishment. To read more about the different departments of research the we explore, click here. Until then, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Coffee Center.