Batch 17 of Volcán de Fuego, Rare Volcanic Coffee, Announced
August 22, 2017 (PRLEAP.COM) Lifestyle NewsSAN DIEGO, August 22 - Volcán de Fuego (volcandefuego.com) announced today that Batch 17 of its true volcanic coffee is now available for a limited time on Kickstarter giving coffee enthusiasts a chance to try the unique single estate micro lot coffee in their own home.
The Arabica Antiquus variety coffee is grown in the heart of Guatemala's cloud forest climate on the side of one of the world's most active volcanoes at an altitude of 6,000 feet. According to Stephen Cassar, one of the founders, the higher altitude, nutrient-dense soil, and ash from continuous eruption of the volcano it's named after, give Volcán de Fuego a unique taste profile with herbal nuances of fresh chocolate, rich caramel, citrus tones, and spices. "It's the same bean that has been produced since the Spaniards first planted Arabica Antiquus in the late 1800's." Cassar said.
The Volcán de Fuego cooperative is wholly owned by the farmers who grow, pick, and process the coffee using a processing plant that is completely powered by water. The organization was formed to eliminate middle men and coyotes who typically profit off farmers before the beans reach the market. Cassar, and business partner Aubrey Huff, a retired pro baseball player who won two World Series rings with the San Francisco Giants, got involved as a way to help the farmers earn a reasonable living while bringing the coffee they enjoyed to the USA.
Huff, Cassar, and their team lead in Guatemala, Tim Ruth, spent years refurbishing a spring-fed, zero carbon footprint, water-powered processing plant to help the farmers process the coffee cherries into green beans, ready for export and roasting. "Fair Trade is not really fair to the farmers." said Huff. "Fair Trade means farmers earn just 18 cents per pound of cherries. That is well below what they need to make in order to survive and provide for their families. Remember, well before coffee reaches your cup, our farmers walk up and down the side of the volcano, handpicking and sorting only the ripest cherries. It's a lot of work. I knew when I first tried this stuff that we had to help these amazing people earn a decent livable wage. And I can't wait for people to try the coffee!" Huff added.
Guatemala has been producing coffee since the 1850's, by some estimates, producing half a billion pounds of green beans each year. But Volcán de Fuego coffee grows in just 2 square miles of steep shaded terrain covered with a unique Andisol soil. This type of young, fertile soil is found in less than 0.75 percent of the earth's non-polar land area. Formed from volcanic ash and lava, Andisols drain well and provide essential phosphorous to coffee plants. The naturally occurring basalt and iron are complemented by mineral-rich volcanic ash that rains down weekly to create a fertile, nutrient-dense soil that coffee thrives in.
At these higher elevations, Volcán de Fuego coffee bushes need protection from the sun, tropical downpours, driving winds, and occasional frost. A diversified mix of Inga, Gravilea, Madrecacao, and Palo Blanco trees, all indigenous to Central America, help create a cloud forest climate that is bird-friendly, protects our coffee, and encourages slow cherry maturation.
The Kickstarter Campaign
Kickstarter is a popular crowdfunding campaign that lets the public back projects like Volcán de Fuego's by pledging funds in exchange for coffee. Cassar, Ruth and Huff are running the Kickstarter campaign to maximize the amount of money farmers are paid for their hard work, and to raise awareness for the cooperative's brand. The campaign is here.
About Volcán de Fuego, the volcano
Fuego is one of three large stratovolcanoes overlooking Guatemala's former capital, Antigua and is one of Central America's most active volcanoes, often seen producing tall ash plumes and dangerous lava flows. Frequent vigorous historical eruptions have been recorded since 1524. The volcano produces major ash falls weekly.
About Volcán de Fuego, the cooperative
The farmer members of the Volcán de Fuego cooperative live right where the coffee is grown, in a remote part of Guatemala's cloud forest at an altitude of 6,000 feet. They own the land they manage, each of them essentially running their own small business. The cooperative owns the water-powered processing plant that converts the ripe coffee cherries into the prized wet-processed, sun-dried 'oro' (green) coffee beans. The farmers profit directly from each step of the production process, eliminating middlemen, coyotes and distribution partners to ensure profits flow directly to the people that do the work.
About the team
Aubrey Huff is a former Major League Baseball player who played for 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Detroit Tigers, and won two World Series Championships with the San Francisco Giants. Aubrey lives in San Diego with his wife and two boys.
Stephen Cassar is a writer and entrepreneur that lives in San Diego with his wife and three children. Cassar met Aubrey when he co-wrote Aubrey's book: Baseball Junkie.
A Tampa, Florida native, Tim Ruth has dedicated the last 12 years to helping the people of Guatemala permanently lift themselves out of poverty. Tim runs the JavaSweater and Volcán de Fuego programs.