Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Coffee production is a family affair in Spokane’s Guatemala Mission
by Jerry Monks, for the Inland Register
(From the December 19, 2013 edition of the Inland Register)
Coffee beans are providing a much-needed economic boost to the Guatemala Highlands area served by the Spokane Diocese mission. (IR photo courtesy of Family-to-Family)
It’s not significant enough for companies like Starbuck’s or Seattle’s Best to even take notice. But coffee production is making an impact on the lives of some families in the Spokane Mission in Guatemala. The small acreage used for growing coffee beans is by no means a plantation. Nevertheless, coffee cultivation is providing an economic boost for a few Mayan Indian families of the Highlands.
Raising coffee is one of the newer projects of Spokane’s Family-To-Family (FTF) organization. It was begun about three years ago on a coastal mountainside several thousand feet below the 7,000-11,000 foot levels where many of the families live. The area is so remote that families working on the project must hike into the site. They spend about a week there, and then climb back up to their homes.
At first there was not even a flat area for drying the beans. The heavy bags had to be hand carried out over a mountain range to the nearest road. As operations improved, a drying area was developed, so the weight of beans that had to be packed out was much less.
The beans are then taken to a city for roasting, packaging, and labeling. The rich, organically grown packages of “Cafe de Adela” are then ready for market. Consumers have the choice of either whole bean or ground coffee.
As the quality of the coffee has become more known, the customer base has expanded. Customers now include one of the better restaurants along the Pan American Highway that links Mexico with South America. Some of the one-pound bags have even found their way to parishes in the Spokane area.
Given the limited success of the coffee project on a small scale, the FTF staff in Guatemala would like to purchase additional land in order to raise more coffee and provide income for more families of the mission area. Funds for the expansion will tentatively come from income from coffee sales, plus some additional help from Spokane area parishioners.
© The Catholic Diocese of Spokane. All Rights Reserved