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Hunting for Haiti’s Best Coffee? The Trek is Over
Coffee hunting in Haiti? Nah.. no hunt necessary – you can drive on a partially paved roads straight to the source, sleep overnight in a quaint guesthouse, and breakfast on spaghetti and ketchup. Singing Rooster.org has been doing this for years.
By: Fainting Goat Madison WI's favorite website co
Mountains aren't good for most agriculture, but they're IDEAL for coffee growing; coffee trees thrive in moist but well-drained soil at high altitudes. The higher the altitude, the bigger the bean, the better the coffee.
“Some of the coffee cooperatives are easier to get to than others,” says Christophe Nicaise, co-founder of the nonprofit that offers a direct buyer relationship & on-the ground assistance to coffee farming communities in Haiti for the sake of self-sustainability, dignity & economic autonomy.
To date, the most remote farmer cooperative is in the high elevations of the Artibonite where a 2-hour truck drive across a boulder road leaves Nicaise at the base of the mountain where a vertical 4-hour trek ensues.
“The first time we visited this area, I brought along a small suitcase. I watched a Haitian guide carry this up the mountain on his head. That was the last time I did that; now I put everything into a backpack and take it up myself.”
Nicaise’s gentle approach and respect for people has made him well known in Haitian coffee farming circles. He states that the goal of real assistance is to work at the level of the farmer cooperative – to take each farmer group to the next step based on skill and interest.
According to Molly Nicaise, “You get a few coffee buyers in Haiti who want the quick fix; they ramrod things into place that don’t last.”
Singing Rooster’s philosophy is to not impose the “right way” or quick solution; instead, the approach is to build basic business skills along side of improved farming techniques that will, in the long-run, benefit rural farming communities.
Haitians have been coffee farming for centuries; basic agricultural skills are good and when there’s a definitive buyer relationship established with a community, the result is export-grade coffee.
Singing Rooster works towards strengthening co-ops -- to make them leaders and innovators of their communities in the hope of keeping families together. By helping co-ops to be effective businesses, they, in turn, can provide leadership in their communities by supporting local entrepreneurs.
Nicaise is proud that all proceeds from U.S. Haitian coffee sales are returned to farmers, but he is quick to point out, “We may be a nonprofit - but our goal is entirely profit-driven: to help Haitians be economically autonomous through SMART business practices, by improving their product and offering insight for growth.”
When Molly is questioned about some who tout the “dangers” of Haiti, she responded, “When a place like Haiti is sensationalized, it is unsettling and does disservice to the country.”
She goes on to say that Haiti can be a genuinely dangerous place - but no more or less dangerous than the U.S. “You probably have a better chance of being mugged or shot on the streets here than you do in Haiti. The real dangers of Haiti are poverty-related with a lack of food, literacy, clean water, medicine, and the abuse of women and children.”
Instead of sensationalizing aspects of poverty to sell products, she advocates an approach where dignity and mutual respect are core and necessary for real change.
Singing Rooster sells roasted and green Haitian Mountain Blue coffee to partially fund their work in Haiti:
Their RARE Haitian Mountain Blue beans are rich, nutty & semi-sweet; cool nights at high altitudes produce gentle & FLAVORFUL coffees!
Haitian Mountain bleu coffee growers handpick coffee cherries; wet processing techniques yield a unique blue-green colored bean.
They ship these BEAUTIFUL, 100% Arabica beans from Haiti to the U.S.; the coffee is air roast in small batches to cultivate the natural nuances of the beans to a variety of roasts. This allows for a clean cup and yields FRESH and EXCELLENT tasting coffee that is perfectly balanced in body and acidity.
Their green Haitian coffee beans are 100% Arabica and wet processed. They currently source their beans from the Dondon, Artibonite, Beaumont, Cavaillon and Thiotte regions of Haiti.
Varietals: Arabica typica, Arabica blue mountain.
Cupping Notes: soft sweetness, hints of chocolate, medium body, balanced cup, mellow acidity.
Two words: smooth & rich
To learn more about Singing Rooster's projects or to support their work through donations, see their website:
Singing Rooster's Haitian Mountain Bleu coffee (http://www.singingrooster.org/
100% of Singing Rooster's proceeds go BACK to Haiti; our goal is to build economic infrastructures based, in part, on coffee growing, production and exportation.
Drink our Coffee. Build an economy. Pass it on.
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Page Updated Last on: Nov 01, 2012