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(Translated from the original Spanish)

Coffee has long been known to nurture communities in ways big and small. Who doesn’t love sitting down with a friend or neighbor over a cup of locally roasted coffee? Really, it’s those cups we here at Portland Coffee Roasters like the most.

So what happens when the community nurtures coffee? It might sound like a silly question, but time and again we’ve seen that in fact, communities can do just that. The most recent example is from our 2019 Holiday Roast campaign, where, working with importing partner Shared Source, we set out to raise $8,000 for a coffee school in Guatemala called the Escuela de Caficultura. With your help, we didn’t just meet that goal, we sailed way over it.

In total, over $10,000 was raised from our campaign this year. That’s enough to send eight aspiring coffee producers to learn about environmentally responsible agricultural practices.

Here, in their own words (translated from the original Spanish), you can see just what it means when community nurtures coffee.

Interview with Gustavo Alexander Martínez Gómez, 20 years old- from the El Cenegal village in La Libertad, Huehuetenango

How did you become interested in learning more about coffee?

Coffee is a fundamental part of the economy, which is why I’m interested in learning the different ways and methods of working with it. I’m interested in learning about coffee so that- God willing- if I’m able to purchase a small plot of my own, I’ll be able to harvest it with an eye for quality. I want to be a person who looks out for others because I understand that the way of working with coffee can change over time- I want to learn to be able to teach others.

How does it feel to be a part of the future of coffee?

I’m proud to be a part of learning about coffee, proud because some day I’ll be able to put my name on my own land- I’m happy, contented, excited, I feel like I’m a young person who can make my skills grow even more. I feel like a successful person, fighting for a better future- for myself, for my family, for the people who surround me.

What is your dream for the future of coffee?

My dream is first to improve the conditions of my life, to improve the different ways that you can work in agriculture, so that coffee producers working with their crops can have a good production. My dream is to be a person who is prepared, recognized, humble, and educated.

My dream is first to improve the conditions of my life, to improve the different ways that you can work in agriculture, so that coffee producers working with their crops can have a good production. My dream is to be a person who is prepared, recognized, humble, and educated.

Interview with Josefina Francisca Pérez Pablo, 19 years old, from the sector of Chanjón in the village of San Martín, Todos Santos, Huehuetenango

How did you first get interested in learning more about coffee?

My interest in learning more about coffee stems from wanting to help my parents as they produce coffee, to work the way the workers work on a farm. I want to learn more so that I can be one of the producers who exports coffee. I also want to learn more about varietals of coffee. 

How does it feel to be a part of the future of coffee?

I feel very happy because at the end of my studies, I’m going to have a lot of new skills, and I’m going to be a part of a strong group of coffee producers.

What is your dream for the future of coffee?

My dream is to be a part of a coffee export company that exports coffee to many other countries- that way I can meet more people. I want to break down doors and barriers that exist for women in coffee in the region. 

Interview with Julia Isabel Lorenzo López, 28 years old, from the village of Reforma San Antonio Huista, Huehuetenango 

How did you first get interested in learning more about coffee?

My interest was born when I was 10 years old- I worked in a coffee shop, and I met lots of people and saw that the environment that’s created with a cup of coffee can be something amazing- aside from the huge variety of drinks that you can make and the way to make them, from the seeds to a cup of coffee. To learn the process and show consumers so that they can appreciate the work that coffee producers is very gratifying. 

How does it feel to be a part of the future of coffee?

I’m happy and excited because I’ve wanted to be a part of this for a long time, but because I don’t have a lot of resources and this field of study can be economically expensive. I needed to learn more in this area so that I can be more successful- I’m happy that I’ve had the opportunity because doors will open and opportunities will come; to be able to learn about coffee production- both from the agronomy, technical, and business aspects- and because I’ll have the necessary tools to be able to offer my two children a better future. 

What is your dream for the future of coffee?

My dream is to be able to open my own coffee shop using the coffee that’s produced in my region- to be able to offer customers a high quality coffee, and to be able to help the coffee producers in the region not just to be able to drink their own coffee, but so that they can also have a log that indicates how they are able to achieve high quality in their harvests- so that the consumers can realize the hard work and efforts that exist behind a cup of coffee. 

Interview with Lisar Alexander Granados, 21 years old, from the Guantan village of Unión cantonal  Huehuetenango

How did you first get interested in learning more about coffee?

I got interested in coffee when I left my municipality and bought cappuccinos, espresso, and other drinks made with coffee. That’s where I got interested in the different processes that you can apply to coffee- we grow coffee, but we don’t know the process that goes into it to reach the cup. 

How does it feel to be a part of the future of coffee?

It feels really nice because I’ve learned things that I didn’t know about coffee- really interesting things that can be down with our own coffee in this region. 

What is your dream for the future of coffee?

My dream is to continue learning new things about coffee and to be able to continue learning more to be able to teach other producers in my region. Because our coffee is really valuable, really good- but we need to continue improving quality for consumers. 

Interview with Alexis Napoleón Lorenzo López, 24 years old, from the village of Reforma, San Antonio Huista

How did you first get interested in learning more about coffee?

The opportunity came about because when I heard people talking about coffee at work, I was working as a receptionist in a hotel. Later, I had the chance to talk to people who worked in the coffee sector, which made me want to learn more about it.

How does it feel to be a part of the future of coffee?

It’s gratifying to know that what I learn at the Escuela de Caficultura can help me with my personal desire to be able to walk up to coffee producers with better techniques and processes that can help them to see more benefits- both at a personal and economic level, so that they can feel the satisfaction that is work well done. 

What is your dream for the future of coffee?

I want to help the coffee sector by learning more and more and being able to help smallholder producers so that they can have better opportunities to commercialize their coffee.

 

Interview with Claudia María Solano Medina, Teacher at Escuela de Caficultura 

What do you hope to do with the funds next year?

Our biggest desire for the young students is to find all of the possible opportunities for them to have direct experiences on farms or plots with producers who, through their experience, have been able to improve their production, but haven’t been able to have enough economic resources for the expenses that trips require- we haven’t been able to do this much. That’s why I think that part of the necessary investment is in this area- along with contracting professionals who can share their knowledge to sow the seed of sustainable entrepreneurship in each and every one of our students.That way we can guarantee one of the fundamental goals of the Escuela de Caficultura- that the young people don’t feel forced to migrate to another country or to a more populated department where- aside from not being able to develop themselves agronomically- they run the risk of being victims of violence, or enlisted in a gang because of lack of work. 

Another one of our biggest dreams is to have a small plot of land belonging to the Escuela with its own installations- that’s why our short term goal is to knock on doors to get funds that will help us to achieve this goal. That way we can support more young people who want to get ahead, not just for their personal, emotional, and labor wellbeing, but so that they can also become positive leaders in their communities and develop sustainable development within themselves.