Coffee buyer, Jess Brooks, recently took a trip to Guatemala with Food 4 Farmers, our partners and $10k donation beneficiary for our most recent Making Coffee Matter release, Organic Café La Abeja. Jess had the opportunity to visit some of the farms that have been learning commercial beekeeping and explains why this program is so important and how it’s helping coffee producers.
It started with an idea for a new blend for our Making Coffee Matter program – bees and coffee, a simple connection, right? The relationship between the two is anything but simple as I learned on a recent trip visiting the coffee growing cooperatives of Acodihue and Maya Ixil, with Food 4 Farmers. Spending a week traveling with Food 4 Farmers staff members showed this connection between coffee and honeybees is a complex and layered relationship, the bees not only act as beneficial pollinators, but the fruits of their labors (the honey) provide a much needed additional exportable and locally consumed product.
While coffee production is not dependent on bees – coffee plants are self-pollinating – it does have an impact on coffee quality and overall health of the ecosystem in coffee growing regions. Simply put – bees impact coffee for the better, both in increasing cup quality and biodiversity of the surrounding the coffee farm.
But it doesn’t stop there. Honey, and other products derived from the hive, provide a diversification of income so farmers are not solely dependent on coffee as their only source of income. Sold locally or exported, this can be an important part of a diversified farm. Honey is also an alternative to processed sugar and can be a nutritional food staple for farming families. Beekeeping here in coffee growing regions is an avenue to strengthen producer knowledge, diversify income, amplify family health and nutrition, and contribute to community resiliency.
Food 4 Farmers is focused on this – addressing food security and seasonal hunger within these communities by developing programs to increase access to and availability to sufficient and appropriate food.
Allegro has been supporting Food 4 Farmers for several years. We continue to purchase coffee from the Acodihue and Maya Ixil cooperatives who are actively engaged in the Food 4 Farmers programs. This partnership between Allegro and the cooperatives is rooted in quality coffee, but it’s equally important, and absolutely necessary for the longevity of specialty coffee in general, to consider the bigger picture – a holistic approach to buying coffee where Food 4 Farmers, the cooperative, and the buyer are interconnected. Because of this ongoing partnership, we wanted to highlight this connection in a special blend called Organic Café La Abeja. Coffee from the two cooperatives are combined to create a blend that is bright and sweet, much like the honeys produced by the farmers of Acodihue and Maya Ixil.
Allegro, Food 4 Farmers, Acodihue and Maya Ixil share the same value of helping coffee producers and farmers – it may sound simple at first, but coffee and honeybees can work together to support this value.