Guaya’b—The Story

“Since we began selling at the Fair Trade price we have seen a big improvement in our quality of life. Co-op members can now afford to buy clothes and medicine for their families, and they benefit from the new programs the co-op has implemented with revenue from Fair Trade sales.”

The Guaya’b Cooperative

Tucked deep in the rainforest of northwest Guatemala, the Guaya’b Cooperative represents over 300 indigenous Maya-Quiche farming families. Cool wet winds from the Pacific Ocean far below sustain a lush ecosystem, mountainside villages, and an ideal setting for the cultivation of great coffee.

The word Guaya’b refers to the indigenous tradition of mutual support, an apt name for this small cooperative uniting farming families in the remote Huehuetenango region. High on the slopes of the Cuenca de Rio Azul (Blue River Valley), these families carefully tend heirloom typica and bourbon Arabica varieties. They work together to sell their coffee directly to their buyers, cutting out the middlemen—coyotes in Spanish—for the first time in decades.

Thanksgiving Coffee co-founder Paul Katzeff first visited these farmers in the early 1990s with Karen Cebreros, a pioneering importer of organic coffee, with strong connections to Guatemala. Years later, after the cooperative had been certified Fair Trade and Organic, Karen sent us a sample, and this distinctively juicy coffee with wine-like depth quickly became our favorite Guatemalan.

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