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The UK gulps down an estimated 98 million cups of coffee per day, but how many of us know exactly where our coffee was grown, who grew it and in what conditions? An estimated 125 million farmers around the world depend on coffee for an income, but coffee production has been linked to deforestation, rampant pesticide use, soil erosion and worker exploitation. Luckily, there is a way to get your caffeine fix without compromising on your ethics.
Techo Verde is a local not for profit social enterprise run by Conrad Feather, a long-time Growing Communities customer. The coffee sold by Techo Verde is grown in the cloud forests of northern Peru by a growing band of smallholders.
The beans have been hand-picked and washed by Guillermo Cotrina and his family from their spray-free farms on the thickly forested slopes of the Chilchos valley. The coffee is grown at altitudes between 1300 and 1600 metres and is free from all chemicals and pesticides. The plants are shade-grown on old farmland to ensure that rainforests and biodiversity in the spectacular valley are protected.
While living in Peru, Conrad began to understand the challenges faced by local coffee farmers. The lack of financial security meant that many farmers had to clear large areas of forest for cattle ranching, a practice that has obvious environmental repercussions. While growing coffee was a viable alternative, farmers were hesitant to make the switch because of the labour required and the low price of coffee in local markets.
In 2020 Conrad set up a non-profit to help Guillermo sell his coffee directly to the public. Today, the non-profit guarantees the purchase of Guillermo’s entire coffee crop at 40% more than the market rate for certified organic coffee in the region and its uptake by customers in London has enabled Conrad to include additional families in the initiative. This financial security has allowed local families to adopt greener farming practices and has eliminated the need for them to clear any forested areas for cattle ranching to feed their families.
Guillermo Cotrina says: “I want to thank all of you who buy our coffee. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. We drink it everyday but without the income it generates we would struggle to make a living and protect our forests. Selling direct adds value to our coffee and allows us to improve our production but also secure vital medical support for our family in times of need. A thousand thankyous.”
On 6th September Conrad who will have just returned from a visit to the farmers will will have a stall at our urban farm show at the Old Fire Station, where he'll be providing free tasters of techo verde coffee and coffee cherry tea as well as have some green beans and freshly roasted beans for sale.
Conrad is also a 15% discount on the purchase of coffee exclusive to growing community customers until 6th October 2023. Just visit www.techoverde.co.uk and enter the discount code from your GC newsletter.
Check out these photos of Conrad's recent visit to help farmers set up new systems for drying and washing their coffee.