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A family farm at the brink of failure – Alejandro Garcia’s Costa Rican coffee farm was at substantial risk of failure. So, he left the five-generation family farm to go work in the US where he saved $40,000 working in a family-style buffet restaurant.
A meeting with destiny – Alejandro (Alé) came back home, invested his hard-earned money in coffee processing equipment, and changed the trajectory of the coffee farming business. The key was a chance meeting with Ken Lander, an American who had retired to Costa Rica and bought a coffee farm. Ken’s retirement was shaken by the financial crisis of 2008. His gentleman’s coffee farm was now needed to feed his family. He learned that making a living as a coffee farmer doesn’t add up.
The test model – Over the next 2 years, they forged ahead with Alé’s equipment and coffee knowledge, and Ken’s business acumen. They vertically integrated the supply chain by processing, roasting, packaging and then selling their own coffee.
The trouble with “fair” – Ken and Alé shared their story, over many cups of local coffee, to people who were amazed to learn of the economic plight of the vast majority of coffee farmers. Despite a host of “fair” programs and “green” certifications the basic lot for the farmer remained unchanged.
Demand for their high quality coffee quickly outstripped supply, so they partnered with other local farmers, offering to do all of the processing needed to sell the coffee. They split the revenue from the“vertically-integrated-supply-chain coffee”. They generated returns back to the farmers that exceeded “fair trade” by up to 10x. www.thrivefarmers.com
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