From Origin

What’s Really Happening At Origin?

Learning Tour Explores Reality Behind Specialty Coffee in Oaxaca, Mexico

The headlines in coffee are stark: la roya continues to run rampant, youth are fleeing their communities, coffee prices have hit rock bottom – in short, coffee producers can’t make ends meet. For anyone working in coffee, the warning signs are clear. The future of our favorite beverage is dependent on what we do now. True Roots International invites coffee aficionados and industry professionals to dig deeper and learn first-hand from small-scale community initiatives.

We believe the first step for understanding is to develop a true understanding of coffee at origin – not just guided tours to hand-selected sources, but visits that show how the majority of the world’s coffee farmers & their families live.  True Roots’ Coffee and Community Development Learning Tour gives people the opportunity to meet smallholder farmers, a coffee cooperative, a specialty coffee roaster, and local community development nonprofit. Participants will see for themselves how coffee-producing communities are organizing in response to the diverse development challenges they face.

“This tour is about going beyond just talking about issues at origin, to highlight initiatives focused on adapting and diversifying in an increasingly unviable industry. Our tours support these partners, showcase their efforts, and create connections with those truly committed to improving coffee farmer livelihoods and development at origin,” says True Roots International Director, Summer Lewis.

Participants on the tour will venture to the mountains of coffee-growing region of La Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca. Highlights include meeting local smallholder farmers with the coffee harvest in full swing; visiting a local cooperative with roasting and community development projects; and learning from a local coffee producer-turned-roaster and businessman just what it takes to produce and sell specialty roasted coffee on the national market. Tour leaders from nonprofit organizations True Roots International and CAMPO A.C. allow participants to develop a broader understanding of the coffee industry, community development challenges, and ideas for action and connection.

The Coffee and Community Development Tour will take place November 14 – 17, 2018; January 16 – 19, 2019; and October 8 – 11, 2019. The 3-night/4-day tour fee is $1300 USD per person, which includes accommodation, ground transport, food, and contributions to local nonprofit partners and communities visited. Special pricing is available for groups of two or more. True Roots remunerates local nonprofits and organizations for their efforts in the tour in a spirit of community development principles – building reciprocal and beneficial relationships with on-the-ground organizations and supporting future community development work.

True Roots’ engagement in the coffee industry goes beyond issues at production level to consider a more holistic, interconnected perspective on sustainability across the value chain. True Roots International has been working at the intersection of coffee, community development, and social responsibility in Latin America for more than 15 years. Based in the US and Oaxaca, Mexico, True Roots co-founders Summer Lewis and José Luis Zárate have designed these learning tours in collaboration with local nonprofit CAMPO AC, combining decades of experience supporting projects and people power in coffee-growing communities, based on the shared values of solidarity and long-term sustainability.

“Is sustainable development possible in coffee-growing communities? We believe that yes, it is – but it requires the will and effort of multiple actors in the coffee value chain to make it possible. The coffee value chain is a complex machine that provides opportunity, but also generates poverty and inequality,” says José Luis Zárate, Programs Director for True Roots International. “We want to spur a direct dialogue among coffee producers and participants to create a more objective understanding about the reality in the fields that produce this valuable commodity.”

About True Roots International  

True Roots International is a nonprofit consulting organization offering simple, practical, and effective training and monitoring and evaluation solutions for international donors and nonprofits in the social impact and community development sector. Our mission is to maximize the impact of social good initiatives, co-creating measurable and sustainable solutions to development challenges.

True Roots International offers unique expertise when it comes to understanding the Latin American coffee context, as well as the specialty coffee industry on a global level. José Luis has worked intimately with multiple coffee farming communities and producer organizations in Oaxaca, Mexico and in other Latin American countries, leading projects in fair trade and organic

certification, economic development, coffee quality control, and training. Summer has worked with a US-based fair trade coffee company, researched the coffee supply chain for her master’s level studies, led livelihood improvement projects in coffee-farming communities in Latin America, and teaches courses covering coffee and trade as an instructor with Kansas State University. True Roots International is also connected to the primary global specialty coffee industry body, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA).


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About True Roots International’s Partner Organization: CAMPO A.C.

True Roots International will host this learning tour in partnership with CAMPO A.C. is a nonprofit organization based in Oaxaca City. Founded in 1988, CAMPO supports projects in various indigenous communities throughout the state of Oaxaca, and many of these projects are in coffee-growing areas. These projects are based on community needs and capacities and are carefully planned and carried out with a goal to long-term sustainability. True Roots co-founders, José Luis and Summer, have established a strong relationship with CAMPO over the past 15+ years. CAMPO’s General Director will accompany the tour, sharing more about the host coffee cooperative’s work with CAMPO, as well as broader issues in community development and the nonprofit realm in Mexico.

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