In partnership with the specialty coffee company Intelligentsia, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), through its Communities Leading Development (CLD) project, invited Guatemalan coffee producers to participate in the Extraordinary Coffee Workshop (ECWx) held in Antigua, Guatemala, in January.
The ECWx gathers Intelligentsia’s direct trade partners from all over the world for an in-depth exploration of what makes coffee extraordinary. This year, the event traveled to Guatemala and included the participation of 28 coffee producers, representing nine smallholder organizations from CLD’s departments of Huehuetenango, San Marcos and Quiché.
The organizations learned about Intelligentsia’s coffee standards, their buying process and the technical assistance they provide to their partners. The event was part of CLD´s inclusive value chain strategy to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises by strengthening the various linkages throughout the coffee value chains, focusing on closing the existing gap between smallholder farmers and more attractive and profitable markets.
“I am happy; I want to learn more and get useful information that helps small producers to export”, said coffee producer Angelita Paz, when asked what she expected from the event.
Intelligentsia has been a leading innovator and influencer in the U.S. specialty coffee market for many years. The company has 13 stores in the United States and a growing international network of wholesale and distribution partners, as well as wide distribution through grocery chains.
Most communities in Guatemala´s Western Highlands rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, selling their products within their own communities or municipalities. The ECWx helps coffee producers expand their vision and understand how to meet the demands of a more sophisticated market like Intelligentsia. When producers receive a fair price for their products, they will increase the stability of their livelihoods and their rootedness in their communities.