We’re desperately hoping to get back to see the communities this year - it’s so important to us that our partners get to see us and we get to see them, understand how everything has been for them. It’s often not until you get there that you can truly understand the challenges they face or have faced. And importantly, we, this year more than any, want to update them with our progress in telling their incredible story, a year that has seen some fantastic growth and coverage through the U.K. media, including our IndyBest Buy award from the Independent newspaper from which we saw significant sales increases of some 1046%! It did coincide with lockdown 1.0 and so we can’t attribute all of this to the Independent (sorry guys) but it certainly helped a bunch. A big thanks to them for seeing us and understanding what it is we’re trying to do with our project.
Before we can get to Peru however, we have to plan to do so in a safe way.. We cannot take covid to these remote communities, the risks for them are just too great, they have successfully isolated through all of this and we must continue to keep them safe.
So the plan? Fly to Lima, straight to an Airbnb and isolation for 7 days. Covid testing at day 5 and day 7 and if all clear the plan is to have a dedicated, Covid free driver (also isolated and tested), drive us 22 hours direct to the communities in Eastern Peru, where we will spend 2 days, talking coffee, future plans, health, education and their wishes for the future.
The thinking here is that if we did contract Covid while travelling to Peru, we’d prefer to be in more comfortable surroundings in Lima, with access to a good hospital should one of us fall seriously ill. Also, falling ill in Satipo, on the other side of the Andes would present another risk - the hospitals might not be as favourable, but if they did need to get us to a hospital in Lima, we actually don’t think a Covid patient would make it over the Andes with the added pressure of altitude (some 4500 masl pass) something that I remember struggling with the last time we travelled, the feeling of breathlessness up there was scary. So, minimise risk and hope that if you do fall ill, you fall ill in Lima - a privileged position that somehow makes us all feel a little ill thinking about.. A deeply saddening and troubling position for the group…
Following the two days with the communities, a quick trip back to Satipo to cup pre-shipment samples with our dry mill partners (the guys who process the parchment coffee and who do a stellar job, it certainly makes our lives so much easier as Roasters). We’ll cup some 109 lots of coffee or thereabout, each community members individual lot, where we’ll score each out of 100 in order to take an average. Last year the communities averaged an 86 with some of the individual lots scoring 88’s and 89’s - the highest scoring lots are then separated and kept for our micro-lot selection and the rest is brought together to make up the individual community lots. The highest scoring lots are further rewarded with some significantly increased prices and so the competition is fierce but in the friendliest of ways - the individual community members know there is a prize and they drive each other in trying to be the best.
And then the arduous trip back to Lima (another 14 hours from Satipo) via a doctor for another Covid test and to the plane and home, where it’s looking more and more likely we’re going to have to isolate for 10 days in a Covid hotel or until they say we can leave.
So the trip will encompass some 23 days, with only 2 days actually with the community and one day with our key partners, but for those moments, it will be totally worth it - such is our level of commitment to making this project a success for the communities, the organisations that support them and of course for us and our customers.
To my wife, who will have a 2-month-old baby and a 2-year-old to look after on her own while I’m away, I can only thank you for being so understanding and letting me
follow my dreams. I cannot tell you what a privilege it is to be able to work with these remote communities and I wouldn’t be able to do it without your support.
So that’s the latest from me, thanks for reading.