In a year where we could all use something to be happy about, our Feliz holiday blend feels especially relevant.
Originally conceived as a way to celebrate the work of our producing partners in Guatemala, the Feliz blend has come to be as big a part of the Coffeebar holiday atmosphere as pumpkin spice specialty seasonal lattes. That first year we blended a small amount of coffee from three separate cooperatives that we had in the Roastery, found a roast profile we loved, and released the Feliz into the world a couple of weeks before Christmas. Oh the naivety. The coffee flew off the shelves, selling far more than we'd expected. The following year we began planning months in advance and contracted a significantly larger amount of each coffee in preparation. And that volume has continued to increase year on year.
The Feliz is quite the celebration of our producing partners, but more importantly, it is an opportunity for us to commit to purchasing greater and greater volumes of coffee and in so doing strengthen our ties with these communities.
The Feliz blend components arrive from three distinctive communities in Guatemala:
San Miguel Escobar - The home of celebrity producer (at least in Coffeebar circles) Manuel Gomez and his family, SME is a cooperative made up of 28 local producers who united to improve their quality and ability to export coffee. Still a small cooperative by all standards, SME punches above their weight, and indeed have been a driver in the work of the importer De la Gente.
Producer Manuel Gomez
Ija’tz - Located in San Lucas Toliman, on the edge of Lake Atitlan, Ija’tz is a cooperative formed to centralize coffee processing in their small community, creating a higher quality product and allowing members to receive greater prices for their coffee cherry.
La Suiza - Perhaps the project closest to our hearts here at Coffeebar, La Suiza is a remote (and we don’t use that word casually) community in the west of Guatemala, formed from disparate groups searching for a new home after the Guatemalan civil war, and now wholly dedicated to using coffee production to improve the opportunities for their children. Formerly having no other recourse to coffee markets beyond middlemen offering low prices, Coffeebar is now far and away their biggest buyer, contracting 11,250 pounds of coffee from the 2020 harvest, with plans to increase that amount this coming season.
2020 may not have gone quite the way we all hoped it would, but while we can maintain and even strengthen our collaborations with communities around the world, we at least have something to be happy about.
And so from us (and Manuel Gomez and his family and colleagues in San Miguel, Arnulfo Cuj and the producing team of Ija’tz, and Don Leonardo and all the members of the La Suiza community), we’d like to wish you all a Feliz Navidad.
The Coffeebar team with Manuel and current De La Gente Director of Operations Danilo Rodríguez during a visit to Guatemala in 2018.
Author: David Wilson
Photo credit Becky Tachihara, Coffeebar Education & Innovation Manager