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Rebuilding Refugees Lives

This week we are introducing what I anticipate will be one of our most enjoyable coffees of the year.  Guatemalan Ixil A'achimbal.  Ok, OK, I did not come up with the name, so let's deal with that ASAP.  Ixil A'achimbal is pronounced EE-sheel AH-shim-ball.  There!  I stumbled over it several times before I got it down, so don't give up!

This story behind this coffee is pretty tremendous and deserves some attention.  1996 brought an end to a 36 year civil war that raged in Guatemala.  During this war, Mayan communities suspected of supporting leftist "Guerrillas" were targeted in a scorched earth campaign that resulted in untold numbers of deaths and disappearances.  The Ixil Triangle saw some of the worst of those atrocities, with many survivors forced to flee for their lives.
After the signing of the peace accords in 1996, refugees began returning to what remained of their communities with little or no economic prospects.  In the Ixil village of Trapachitos, 85 families returned to discover that the new government did not recognize their ownership of the land. They squeezed onto a mere 25 mere acres of land and spent the next several years eking out an existence while trying to acquire more land to farm.

In 2000, Seattle based Argos International helped the villagers secure funding to purchase another 635 acres for their coffee, bananas, lemons and oranges.  In 2003, Argos introduced Craig Humbolt, owner of Atlas Coffee Importers (our importer) to the community.  He immediately saw the potential of the coffee they were growing and began what was the first relationship coffee venture for Atlas.

The community of Trapachitos lies more than 4,600 feet above sea level, and the climate and volcanic soil provide perfect growing conditions – especially for the complex, balanced flavors that have come to define the Ixil A'achimbal coffee.  The farmers have planted only bourbon and typica coffee trees and meticulously care for the coffee from seedling to mill. The coffee is passive organic (organic but not certified), hand-picked, hand-sorted for defect, and sun-dried on raised wooden racks. The beans are meticulously processed and sorted, and the resulting cup is beautifully nuanced.

At the beginning of each harvest, the coffee farmers meet and set their own price for the coffee - I LOVE it!  Since its inception, the project has been so successful that farmers in three neighboring communities are now participating.

It is stories like these that get me excited about bringing coffee to you.  By the grace of God most of us have never experienced the devastation these people have lived through.  Yet we can be a part of them building a new community!

So drink up and enjoy!  This coffee is top shelf Guatemalan.  Extremely balanced, medium bodied and full of chocolate and caramel undertones, this is one of those coffees that you just want to swish around in your mouth and enjoy the complexity of flavors.  I have been drinking it the past week and just marveling in how lovely it is.  And it also makes some killer iced coffee.

Price Changes on the Horizon

Since the beginning we have endeavored to offer you to shelf specialty grade coffees without gouging you on the price.  But as many of you know, inflation, transportation costs and food costs continue to edge their way upward.  Bringing in coffees from places like Africa, South America and Indonesia are becoming increasingly more expensive.  So that we can continue to accomplish our mission of having something left over to invest in coffee producing communities, we will be raising our prices effective September 1, 2012.

To be honest, the most important thing to me is that we can actually help people through what we are doing.  That is the heart and soul of our brand.  I believe people like you understand that and see the value of what we are endeavoring to do.  I truly appreciate your understanding.

So... if you want to save some dough on your coffee... stock up before August is out!

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