Haiti // Reserve #5 shirt
Haiti // Reserve #5 shirt
Order the coffee at https://www.labarbacoffee.com/goods/haiti.
From our head roaster, Levi:
I visited Haiti six years ago and was struck first and foremost not by the country’s poverty or leftover rubble from the 2010 earthquake, but by its natural beauty. We flew into Port-Au-Prince from Miami and then took a van to the town of Gonaïves where other friends of ours from a church in Salt Lake—Grace, Isaac, and Rusty—had recently moved to live in Haiti long-term. Grace to help start a health clinic and Isaac and Rusty to build houses and teach English and help establish business prospects for local Haitians. Along the way to Gonaives, we passed long stretches of gorgeous turquoise Caribbean coast, tortoise-green tropical mountain ranges, and forests cloaked in clouds and mist. The air was balmy and smelled of burning trees, the wood burned to make charcoal to sell at the local market. Looking out the van windows, I thought it strange how you wouldn’t know you were in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere if you were to simply wake up here one day. The chaotic, often trash-covered streets and sketchy infrastructure of Haiti’s many cities and towns were all juxtaposed against a magnificent Caribbean landscape.
While Haiti is a nation racked by natural disasters, poverty, disease, deforestation, and corruption, I found the country to be first and foremost, beautiful and strong. Haiti is, after all, a nation of former slaves who revolted to create the world’s oldest and first black republic. A host of issues has plagued Haiti since it’s inception—from dictators, to military rule and occupation, cholera, and a devastating earthquake, but people are eager to get to prove that Haiti is not just a nation of starving children you see on infomercials. Haitians are ready to bounce back and eager to take control of their labor and means of production. They are ready to grow their own crops and build their own houses rather than relying on NGO’s and Western Aid. What Haiti needs more than anything else right now is economic growth. There is an almost unbelievable 80% unemployment rate. Coffee is one way to achieve this.
Haitian coffee production used to account for 70% of the worlds coffee supply. The first coffee plant brought to the Western Hemisphere was planted on the Caribbean island of Martinique, not far away. Today however, coffee production is rare and specialty grade coffee production and quality coffee even more so because of deforestation and economic woes. Combine that with the difficulty of exporting, shipping, and the payment of small bribes to all parties involved along the way, and it is a wonder that we can are able to roast and brew Haitian coffee at all. All factors, of course, which inevitably increase the price of the product.
We stumbled upon this particular Reserve coffee from our friend Tom who has worked in Haiti for the last ten years. His company is called EcoCafé and their mission is to “enable self-sufficient economic efficiency in rural Haiti (through coffee cultivation, processing, and export sale), to restore the environment back to good health, and to feed the poorest of the poor, a tri-fold mission statement.” They have done some tremendous work in the region of Ranquitte to bring you this coffee, battling road closures, theft of coffee plants and equipment, and on.
This year the Ranquitte coffee is mild, sweet, smooth, and balanced, with a good body and subtle notes of peanut butter and dark chocolate.
These “Reserve” lines at La Barba are all about peculiar and unique coffees. Whether it’s a yellow honey processed Costa Rica, Colombian Gesha, or vibrantly fruity Ethiopia (coming soon, Laos!), I look for coffees that are unique and rare. In this case, this Reserve is also a coffee I feel very good about buying despite the high price. It’s one of those times when I feel like coffee really can contribute to the social good. The exportation of coffee is a cash a crop for many developing countries around the world and provides a steady stream of income to farmers, laborers, and the country in general, and all this is even more so in the case of Haiti. Economic growth is one of the major factors to reducing poverty and improving quality of life in developing countries and so even though we’ve only bought a few small bags of this Haitian coffee, we hope it’s contributing to the growth of Haiti in some small way with our purchase and yours.
Design by Kaleb Nimz