We take so many things for granted. I recalled this today as I realised I’d no coffee in the office and the easiest option was to grab a bag of ground coffee from the supermarket on the way in. Or for that matter, a jar of instant.
The easiest. Not the best, not the tastiest, the easiest. The easiest for me.
Before I start waffling, I want you to watch a video. Grab a brew if you need to. It’s less than seven minutes long, but it’ll explain a lot.
A couple of weeks ago, Heart & Graft one of Manchester’s coffee roasters invited us to meet the Nolasco family from Honduras. Heart & Graft provide coffee to shops all over Manchester, so though you may not immediately recognise the name, you’ll probably recognise the coffee. They’ve even put up with me, a total amateur (but it’s coffee, so I’m enthusiastic), at a coffee cupping competition.
Part of COMSA in Marcala in South Western Honduras, the Nolasco family have been active in setting up the co-operative thatis dedicated to sustainable and organic farming methods. Founded in late 2001 it looked to take the farmers of Marcala away from the commercial style of growing that is primarily used to create instant coffees, into healthier less chemical reliant farming. It’s more labour intensive, but healthier for the people, the planet, the coffee and the consumer.
Introduced by James from Heart & Graft, the Nolasco family endeavoured to explain to us how they empower farmers, change the practices and encourage farmers in their area to work with the environment rather than against it. Over time the land and the plants grow without heavy fertilisers, they get used to the organic and biodynamic processes, flourish and produce incredible coffee beans and of course it was the latter that drew James and Sean of Heart & Graft to them.
‘You can earn the same for one sack of quality coffee, as you can for 100 sacks of commercial grade coffee’
It’s been a journey for those involved, from changing the soil, to encouraging the workers to learn when the berry on the plant is truly ripe, rather than a complete harvest of all the berries – no matter how ripe they are.
And it doesn’t end there. The farmers have an ethos that spreads beyond the farms themselves.
“To be a competitive company, viable and known for quality coffee, managed with total transparency, gender equality and harmony with nature contributing to the improvement of living conditions of our members and their families.”
It’s about working with the land and the people. Education, growth, sustainability. Members of COMSA can apply for grants to enabling them buy livestock and again the organisation steps in with workshops to teach the farmers to care for their animals, in time giving them the opportunity to be completely self sustaining. COMSA uses the pillars of their guiding philosophy, The Five M’s. Organic Material, Micro-organisms, Minerals, living Molecules and gray Matter.
But it all comes back to the coffee.
And both James and Sean were so impressed by the quality of the coffee, let alone the ethos behind it, that they’ll be bringing it to Manchester in September.
For me, it’s a bit of a wake up call. I’m a caffeine addict and take it for granted that my brew will be there for me every morning. But along with the War on Waste highlighting the inability to recycle coffee cups, and this. I’m rethinking.
Time to get a reusable cup. And time to be part of something better. Chaps, how do I get my order in?
This event was free to attend.