How the future of coffee is all about family
Have you heard the saying, ‘you can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’? Well, when your family evolves into a global coffee business, this doesn't necessarily apply.
Julius Meinl grew out of a small business that began in a spice store in Vienna that was powered by a family. As it’s moved through generations over the last (almost) 160 years, A LOT has changed, yet the fact that a family began this venture defines the spirit of the Julius Meinl global enterprise to this day.
And along the way, we’ve had the privilege to choose our family. Well, adopted family, anyway – every individual who works for the company.
This may sound cheesy, but it’s true. Family is at the heart of our identity and how we conduct our business, and we ardently believe it to be one of the company’s core strengths.
This ‘family’ principle is also our guiding light when it comes to how we work with our partners around the world. We’re not saying that we and our partners are all one big family (now THAT would be cheesy). We’re saying that it's important to us that through our work, we help improve the lives of not only the people we work with, but also their families.
This ethos is at the center of our sustainability initiative, the Colombian Heritage Project. This initiative is built on programs that can enact real, on-the-ground change, and improve the lives of the farmers we work with in Colombia.
The idea is that we don’t only support Colombian coffee farmers, but also their families.
We do this by helping them better their businesses through training programs, offering education programs for their children, helping them get their hands on the equipment they need, providing technical assistance and guiding them through the process of earning the relevant certifications.
The school support programme, which sees us providing education programs and materials for farmer’s children, is one of the key elements that make up the Colombian Heritage Project. It’s a concrete example of how we’re striving to make a difference on ground level.
The farmers we work with consider future generations when they think of their businesses. Luckily for us, Julius Meinl had the same kind of forward-thinking as these farmers, and so do we.
One of the biggest problems for the farmers in the coffee-growing regions is that the younger generations are constantly leaving for the city in search of education and better paid jobs. This is something we’re looking to help change with such programs.
We’re injecting this program full of initiatives that will empower farmers so that they can earn higher profits on their end, and have everything they need to produce quality harvests, independent of any third party.
We work with a lot of farmers located in the Tolima region of Colombia. The terrain there is not easy to farm as it’s incredibly steep. There are also issues with how the region is managed. Let’s just say, the farmers don’t have it easy.
This is the reason behind the Agronomist Assistance program, which looks to upskill farmers with individual training sessions and technical support.
In 2020 alone, roughly 305 producers were trained, including families and farmers from 50 farms in the Tolima region.
Meanwhile, we also discovered that the farmers were lacking one of the essential pieces of equipment – drying machines. Without these, the farmers were being forced to sell the coffee cherries to resellers, meaning there was a loss of quality happening, and a chunk of their profits disappearing.
After identifying this barrier, we provided, installed and began maintaining 25 drying facilities thus increasing the farmers’ production of dried coffee by 85%.– and we won’t be stopping there.
To further help producers grow profitable and sustainable businesses, we’re also guiding farmers through the process of acquiring the UTZ & Rainforest alliance certification.
Having these certificates will enable them to sell their product at higher prices, and ensure that they’re meeting certain economic, social and ecological requirements, which can only be a good thing for everyone.
By investing in farmers and their families, and adopting the same forward-thinking approach that our founder once did, we’ll be improving the quality of life for generations of farmers, creating a better and more sustainable coffee industry, and as a result, improving the quality of beans we deliver to our coffee-loving community – and in our humble opinion, these are all the key ingredients for a better future.
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