Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Freshest Coffee in All the World

There is something almost spiritual about the coffee in this land. You can pick a bright red berry, shine it against your shirt and place it in your mouth. When you carefully bite down, allowing your teeth to pop through the skin and find the bean inside, a kind of bitter-sweet juice fills your mouth with just a hint of the potential that can be unlocked through a centuries old process of cleaning, drying, roasting, grinding, and steeping.

We have a giant coffee tree in the back corner of of yard. It gets a few hours a day of direct sunlight that is filtered by the high tree above it. Since it grows in the corner of two concrete walls, it receives necessary shading for most of the day. In its unlikely location in the middle of the city, it yields thousands of beautiful red cherries.

We have several friends in the coffee business, and after a few quick chats, Kellie decided that she'd like to roast from our own coffee tree. We grabbed the necessary tools: two ladders, two ice cream containers, one large bucket (used the night before as a barf-bucket) and diva eleven year old, and a cranky fourteen year old.

It took some practice to remove the cherry from the branch without causing damage and leaving the green cherries. The best quality coffee is always hand picked, selecting only the dark red, plump cherries. Our respect for local coffee farmers soared. When a harvest is ready, a family often will come to pick, bringing all members. Father and mother will pick alongside their children, and infants will often be tied in slings around either mom or one of the older siblings. Large baskets that weigh 80 to 100 lbs are carried on heads, and an entire day's pick can earn the family around $6.00 per day per person for each adult size harvest.

Caleb and Aleksandra picked for about 3 hours to yield 12 pounds of coffee. I don't think this rate of 2 pounds an hour would be considered productive up on the mountain.  But, for gringo-kids this will have to do for now. From what I've learned, a good picker can pick up to 200 pounds in a very long day, which then would yield down to about 40 pounds of dried beans. So, using this same equation, we'll get around 2.5 pounds of ground coffee. 

Fresh grinds for a fresh start with a new year. Our concrete wall is finished thanks to our partners back in the U.S. and we've broken ground on the plumbing to convert a tool shed into an apartment. 

January is our lowest month for funding with our partners recovering from Christmas, preparing for taxes, and resetting budgets. Last year we nearly hyperventilated from the lack of funding. But this year, we move forward in faith. God has brought us this far, and He will not abandon us as long as we continue to seek His face.

And so, for a few weeks we tighten the belt, move forward on faith, and enjoy a great cup of coffee. I believe that God has more in store than we could possible ask or imagine.

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