So yesterday Elise and I got the chance to visit As Green As It Gets, an independent Guatemala cooperative that works with local farmers to produce all kinds of products, coffee being it’s primary bread and butter. We talked with Franklin, the founder (who is originally from Wisconsin), and he gave us a tour of the place. This guy was so full of facts, statistics, and lots of interesting anecdotes about everything from coffee production to the chemical make-up of hazelnut oil.
We got to talking about the world of non-profits and he explain how the industry is hopelessly corrupt, especially in Guatemala but also in the States. We found it interesting that, according to Franklin, fraud among Christian mission organizations is perhaps the most profound. He also had little good to say about Fair Trade coffee, other than that their very good marketing campaign disguising what is otherwise a very profit driven company that doesn’t actually help the local coffee farmers in the least.
It wasn’t a totally depressing afternoon though. We took some spades and went a’weeding in the coffee fields for a good hour and a half and Franklin told us a lot about the world of social entrepreneurship and how it can work well and how it can often not. Elise was especially interested in these issues from the social worker’s perspective. A few times Franklin jokingly asked if he had turned us into cynics yet.
On a happy note, I tasted my first official coffee there. Franklin said the brew that we tasted wasn’t the best of the best, but even the worst coffee in Guatemala beats anything offered in the States. Having tasted fresh Guatemalan coffee straight from the source, I don’t know if I can lower myself to go to Starbucks.
Anyway, you really should check out As Green As It Gets. It’s the real deal. They rely solely on word of mouth to get business, and 100% of their profits goes straight back to the farmers, the people who actually need it. They sell a lot more than just coffee too. Necklaces, shampoo, soap, purses, castor oil, and much more. So order a pound or a hundred for you and your friends.