“In this new century, I believe that more business and personal decisions will be based on “Working in “Harmony with the Earth where everyone and everything will prosper. We will be guided by our spirit voice along the path that leads to thriving”
Jim Stewart… specialty coffee pioneer.
Santiago, Guatemala was a dangerous place to live. Ravaged by guerilla war and political unrest, untended coffee farms and families descended into a well of poverty, ruin, and depravation. The army carried out abductions, torture, disappearances and forced conscriptions. Santiago lost hundreds of its citizens to the random terror of a government of the powerful. Conditions are better today in Santiago and life is moving toward peace and security but the old wounds of poverty and ruin heal slowly.
Even under the best circumstances, it is difficult to produce this extraordinary coffee Every day farmers, descendants from the ancient Mayans, hike up to the shade covered Guatemalan highlands to pick the ripe coffee cherries. These wild rugged mountains are home to some of the finest coffees in the world.
Jim Stewart, Vashon Island’s most famous “coffee guy” with the help of coffee exporter, Alvarro DeSola, went into this region, when it was safe to be there, and created lasting relationships built on trust and offerings of support that would make it possible to import coffee beans from this remote region. By encouraging these farmers to continue producing coffees of the highest quality, they are also protecting the old trees, practicing good land stewardship and maintaining the traditional methods of growing and harvesting. In return, Jim Stewart finds markets for their coffee and directly rewards them financially for their efforts. From this project, Jim Stewart formed the Vashon Island Coffee Foundation, a non-profit organization that has provided disaster relief, financial infrastructure and technical support to the people of Santiago de Atitlan, as well as for other small coffee farmers around the world. A percentage of every pound of coffee sold is set aside for the benefit of these coffee-farming families.
He has visited the tiniest farms and the largest plantations of the world, buying coffee and witnessing the living conditions of the simple farmers and the impact of “modern” agricultural practices on the land. Farmers do not have to join a group or organization to benefit from the profits. They do not have to pay to participate in a larger marketplace, unlike other organizations. They simply have to follow agricultural “best practices” for producing premium specialty coffee. Because of these efforts, this gorgeous, majestic land is spared the ravages of slash and burn agriculture in favor of sustainable farming. The native people and their families are able to prosper and remain intact.
Through this aid and additional contributions from island residents like Keri Goodman and David Vogel and others, the Foundation in Santiago constructed a schoolhouse for 120 children, brought water to every home and most recently, built a small medical clinic.
This now world class coffee is among the most treasured of all the coffee that Jim buys and remains because of its flavor, the most popular coffee that we sell at the Roasterie.