- If you've never heard of "Death Road," you've never visited Caranavi, Bolivia, where more than
80 percent of the country's green coffee is produced.
- On this particular weekend, that long
and treacherous road is the site of a lively coffee celebration – the first ever Fair Trade Coffee
Cupping Competition and Exchange. The event was coordinated and conducted by CC's producer partner
FECAFEB (Federacion de Caficultores Exportadores de Bolivia) and the Bolivian National Cupping
- Cooperative Coffees, with Fair Trade allies Catholic Relief Services (CRS), TransFair
Canada and Coffee Labs International, took the initiative to support this event. "The idea to host
a first ever Fair Trade Cupping and Information Exchange was planted during an exploratory tour of
Bolivia in May 2006," said Cooperative Coffees Producer Relations Manager Monika Firl. "We ventured
to many of the far corners of the Bolivian coffee-growers' landscape. We were stunned by the
challenges these farmers face and inspired by their enthusiasm to improve the quality of their
product and the quality of life in their communities.
- For the Bolivian small-scale
producers, this event provided critical information about quality and cup characteristics directly
from some of their preferred buyers, as well as providing marketing information to help them
promote their coffee in more advantageous markets with new buyers.
This unforgettable event helped us better understand all that Bolivia has to offer and gave us an opportunity to reinforce our message of creating relationships with small-scale farmers that transcend the common role of being "just another buyer" of Fair Trade coffee.
- This crazy "Death Road" is the same that
all the trailers out of Caranavi must take to bring parchment coffee to the dry mills in La Paz in
preparation for export. For all of us at Cooperative Coffees, it feels good to know that we have
walked at least some stretch of it together.