One of the key areas of our work in creating economic opportunity is to ensure that our partner cooperatives and their members have the knowledge and resources to produce high quality coffee. As cooperatives grow, their needs for physical infrastructure also grow, and many cooperatives struggle to find the resources to make the capital investments that may initially be costly, but will pay off in the long term.
One of the last steps of the coffee process is removing a thin husk called the parchment skin from the coffee beans, which is done using a machine called a trilladora (thresher or mill in English). These machines are expensive and generally an entire cooperative shares one machine. In these last few years as production has grown, the San Miguel Escobar cooperative has outgrown their trilla. In consultation with cooperative members, we realized that their old machine could be better used by APCASA, another cooperative in the western part of Guatemala whose production is just now recovering after the effects of roya.
Thanks to the generous support of our donors, we refurbished this old machine and donated it to APCASA, who now have the ability to mill their own coffee themselves. We also purchased a much more powerful trilla to serve San Miguel’s growing needs. San Miguel’s new trilla has already benefited the cooperative greatly. As it is significantly faster, processing that used to take a whole day can now be done in a couple of hours.
As a side benefit, during this harvest season, our partner cooperative in Santa Maria de Jesús hired the San Miguel group to process their coffee, which was possible because of the upgraded processing capacity. The San Miguel co-op has set aside those funds for further maintenance of their equipment and has already reinvested some of those funds to purchase a new coffee grinder. This is an example of how we see our role working alongside cooperatives: that as a partner who builds co-ops' capacities rather than creating dependency. The trilla has increased San Miguel's processing capacility, but it is up to them to use this resources to reinvest in themselves and as a catalyst for further growth.
If you’d like to be part of our work with cooperatives, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.