A family farm at the brink of failure – Alejandro Garcia’s Costa Rican coffee farm was at substantial risk of failure, so he became determined to do something about it. He left the five-generation family farm to go work in the United States where he saved $40,000 over two years working in a family-style buffet restaurant in the Amish country.
A meeting with destiny – Alejandro (Alé) came back home, invested his hard-earned money in coffee processing equipment, and by so doing, changed the trajectory of the coffee farming business. The key was a chance meeting with Ken Lander, an American who had retired to Costa Rica and bought a coffee farm. Ken’s Costa Rican retirement was shaken by the financial crisis of 2008. His gentleman’s coffee farm was now needed to feed his family. And much to his surprise, he learned that making a living as a coffee farmer doesn’t add up.
The test model – Over the next two years, Alé and Ken forged ahead with Alé’s equipment and coffee knowledge, plus Ken’s business acumen. Together, they vertically integrated the supply chain by processing, roasting, packaging and then selling their own coffee, in their own small coffee shops in the Monteverde, Costa Rica tourism area.
The trouble with “fair” – Ken and Alé shared their story, over many cups of local coffee, to people who were amazed to learn of the economic plight of the vast majority of coffee farmers. Despite a host of “fair” programs and “green” certifications the basic lot for the farmer remained unchanged.
Generous returns – Demand for Ken and Alé’s high quality coffee quickly outstripped supply, so they partnered with other local farmers, offering to do all of the processing needed to sell the coffee. They split the revenue from the“vertically-integrated-supply-chain coffee” and to the farmers’ delight, they generated returns back to the farmers that exceeded “fair trade” by up to 10x. The San Rafael Sustainable Coffee Initiative was born and in the course of eighteen months, Ken and Alejandro had built a following of over 3000 coffee lovers that spanned the U.S., Canada & Europe, who were buying the output of more than twenty farmers.
The birth of THRIVE Farmers™ – The San Rafael Sustainable Coffee Initiative became the genesis of THRIVE Farmers. Now with over 300 farmers across six regions in three countries, THRIVE Farmers is on track to represent every major coffee growing region in the world, while providing consumers with the ability to support the success of the farmers and their community.
Support the movement – With your support, THRIVE Farmers will not only transform the lives of tens of thousands of coffee farmers and eliminate unnecessary layers in the coffee supply chain, but revolutionize the coffee industry. When you “know who grows” the premium Arabica coffee that starts your day, you can enjoy your cup in a new way.
For THRIVE Farmers,
Kenneth Lander & Alejandro Garcia
Watch the THRIVE Farmers Video
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Coffee’s Economics, Rewritten by Farmers
Special profile of the THRIVE model highlighted via The New York Times Learn more now.
The Perfect Cup
Learn all you need to know about brewing perfect cup of coffee. Read our guide here.