Word has it, our first ever Salvadoran coffee will be landing by boat in Halifax this week! We’re all very excited here at Just Us! as this coffee represents an incredible story of hardship, tenacity, and hopefully success.
In January of this year a group of four of us from Just Us! had the pleasure to visit the community of La Palma in Chalatenango region in El Salvador for an entire week. Our visit was coordinated by the Vice-President’s Office. The Vice-President administers the UNESCO Bioshpere, Trefinio, within which La Palma is located. A major focus of the current FMLN government is economic, environmental and social sustainability within the rural regions of El Salvador. Of course, these are all of interest to Just Us! as well!
Over the course of the week we made contact with many farmers in the community, travelled high into mountains and saw how a producer co-op that is still in its beginning stages struggles to organize itself. We met many determined organizers who work day in, day out to build their co-op and improve the conditions for its members. We were amazed to realize that many of the farmers with whom we spoke, had been guerrillas in the civil war that came to an official end in 1992. In fact the preliminary meetings that led to the peace accords happened in La Palma.
We tasted many amazing coffees too, some of which were the highly sought-after Pacamara variety that is claimed to be native to El Salvador. In fact, we were able to get 5 bags of the Pacamara crop that won this year’s Cup of Excellence award in El Salvador. It will be released under our Reserve Line in the coming weeks.
This is the first time this co-op has ever directly sold its coffee to a buyer outside of El Salvador and it has been a challenging process of decision-making within the co-operative, capacity building, and red tape due to the government bureaucracy involved in exporting coffee. This year’s crop is not certified organic or Fair Trade but the coffees we sourced were from the producers who can easily certify in the next year or so. While we were there, we signed an agreement that we would pay the co-op Fair Trade and Organic prices this year so that they can put the proceeds towards the certifications next year. Also, we hooked them up with the SPP, our Fair Trade certification of choice who is helping them through some of the hurdles involved in exporting coffee.
All in all, a pretty exciting time here at Just Us! We’ll start the roast trials next week and hopefully have something nailed down in the next month. Keep your eyes open for our Salvadoran brew on tap and on our Reserve Line shelves at a Just Us! coffeehouse near you.
Director of Coffee