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Fair trade coffee: Marlene's manager seeks insight at Peru co-op
The Andes mountain range is home to some of the most historic ruins, isolated people and beautiful vistas in the world. But it’s also home to some of the best coffee on the planet, and that’s the reason why Marlene’s Market and Deli manager Kim Love is heading to Peru.
Love will take the trip of 4,961 miles in order to see firsthand the coffee growing co-ops that help stock Marlene’s shelves. She leaves May 31.
“We’ll spend the night in Lima,” she said, “then take a six-hour bus ride to Quillabamba, and eventually, we’ll end up at about 12,000 feet in the Andes mountains.”
Marlene’s gets its coffee from the Agrarian Cooperative Central of Cuzco (COCLA), a cooperative backed by the Equal Exchange Co-Op. Both COCLA and Equal Exchange are certified “fair trade” organizations, a designation indicating that goods produced, bought and sold are done so in an equitable and just manner.
For Love, seeing the process firsthand is important in knowing that all the pretty words aren’t just lip service.
“You read about how things are done, and then you actually get there and experience it,” she said. “You can really see it’s not just talk. It’s what is really happening.”
Love’s itinerary will include “cuppings” (coffee tastings), picking coffee beans, roasting the beans and living with some of the COCLA families for a few nights. She and her Tacoma counterpart, Francesca Siena, hope to chronicle their adventure on Facebook and through the Marlene’s website.
At 12,000 feet high in the Andes, the endurance of someone not living at that altitude is quickly tested. Love says she’s not too worried about it because she regularly plays South America’s sport.
“I play soccer once a week, so that’s pretty good endurance training,” she said.
The trip aligns with Marlene’s practices and products — and it’s all for a better cause and a better way of doing things.
“We’ll be able to tell people about our experience and why they should do this and why we think it’s a better thing for the world,” she said.
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