Two weeks ago, we were touching down in Haiti. It was a quick trip—but a great one—and for some of us, it was the first time traveling to origin. It’s all still sinking in. Memories from the whirlwind visit are coming back in flashes and we know that we will never look at coffee the same way again.
We’ll definitely never forget the road to Thiotte, the town where the Haiti Coffee Academy is. More of a dry, rocky riverbed than a road. We spent hours rattling around in the back of Todd’s chopped-up, crazy-looking Jeep (he drives like a maniac, by the way). The going was rough, but the open back of the truck gave us the most amazing views of Haiti’s famous mountains.
One of the most intense experiences was getting to taste Savan Zombi where it’s grown and processed. And even more amazing than seeing coffee plants or holding parchment coffee for the first time was meeting the people behind the beans. We were glad to spend more time with Cantave, a young Haitian who took over the Haiti Coffee Academy’s project management duties this summer. He and one of our farming partners, Williams, set up a processing demonstration for us, walking us through the old-school, analog way that they turn the juicy coffee fruit into the tasty beans we know and love. It was powerful to see the labor and care that goes into the first half of the bean-to-cup process, and it deepened our appreciation for the burlap bags of dried, green coffee beans that arrive to our roastery.
We have to give a major shout to our hosts for the trip: Renald (driver, coffee sourcer, “fixer”) and Harry (landlord, liaison, buddy). Harry, a Haitian who lived in Philly for nearly two decades before returning home, owns the land that we lease for the Haiti Coffee Academy. Great coffee is rooted in friendships like these, and it was these person-to-person connections and partnerships that made the Haiti Coffee Academy possible.
Look out for more pictures and posts about Haiti in the coming weeks, including a more in-depth update on the Haiti Coffee Academy.