During a team trip to Liberia in 2012, we learned an interesting bit of information concerning Liberian agriculture. All over the country, there are thriving coffee farms that yield a plentiful harvest of healthy, green coffee beans just asking to be processed, roasted, ground and enjoyed! However, the market for getting these beans into consumer’s hands simply does not exist. The demand for other-than-instant coffee within Liberia itself is very low and the fragile infrastructure of the country during this postwar period has prohibited the growth of export businesses.
We saw the farms ourselves and we discovered that some of these farmers are even part of our immediate network through our partners in Liberia. An idea began to develop. If we could assist these farmers in getting their product into a market where the demand for coffee is high, we could really begin to make an impact for this sector of the Liberian economy. The land is there. The product is there. The farmers are able, willing and ready to work. We just needed to help them find buyers for their product – a product, which, interesting enough, is considered a specialty coffee in the U.S. market (some of our farmer friends grow a unique plant that bears what has come to be known as “Liberica” beans).
The Compassion Corps team researched the possibility of becoming involved in a coffee export effort in Liberia and after talking with our partners about this idea (over which they expressed great excitement), the vision was launched. During one of Jan’s frequent visits to Liberia, she was able to meet with the appropriate officials and complete the proper documentation that was necessary for Compassion Corps to work within the legal framework of Liberia’s agricultural industry. On the U.S. side, we were privileged to have a well-known, New York based coffee import company, Eldorado Coffee, help us to launch our project. Eldorado understood our mission of wanting to help advance the coffee market for the benefit of Liberian farmers and graciously provided Compassion Corps hours of time throughout the consulting process as we researched the various possibilities and potential challenges associated with this mission. A branch of the Eldorado corporation, Industry Coffee Works, located locally to us in Chester, PA, and run by friend of Compassion Corps, Bob Campbell, does the roasting, grinding and packaging for us.
This was an ambitious undertaking, but we saw the enormous potential that an effort like this could have not only for the agriculture sector but for improved quality of life for hundreds of Liberian people. Through our efforts to provide an avenue for the export and distribution of Liberian coffee in the U.S. market, we hope to revive the currently non-existent coffee industry in Liberia. In the process, we are able to provide income for farmers who have been watching entire harvests go to waste year after year. We have also been able to provide the necessary agricultural training along the way to empower Liberian farmers to continually improve the quality of their product and to master the necessary skills for processing, ultimately with the goal of establishing a processing plant for production and distribution within Liberia.
In recent years, we expanded our efforts, engaging impoverished coffee farmers in the remote mountainous region of western Uganda, to market their coffee, as well. This has enabled us to create delicious blends of the two varieties of coffee: Liberian Robusta and Ugandan Arabica.
UPDATE…PLEASE HELP! (Jan.5, 2021):
Our first and most popular coffee product, which is a medium/dark roast that we’ve called “Justice Java,” was launched for purchase in 2013, and we now offer three other options: Promise Perk, our Liberian dark roast, Pearl of Africa, our medium roast (a blend of Liberian & Ugandan coffees), and Rwenzori Roast (100% Ugandan Arabica.) Sales of our coffee will help to provide for a critical need for funding of our projects while we have been temporarily unable to host our annual fundraising events due to the pandemic. For more information on how to purchase a bag of our unique and delicious Cup of Compassion Coffee, please visit the “Get Involved” section of our website: www.compassion-corps.com. Thanks so much for your continued support!