Today, coffee lovers across the United States celebrate National Coffee Day. While you enjoy your daily cup you can take joy in knowing that your Kiva loans help support the independent coffee farmers who made it possible.
There is a good chance the cup you drank this morning came from Costa Rica. Last year, the United States, the largest global consumer of coffee, imported over $153 million dollars worth of coffee from Costa Rica alone. Judging from the scene on the ground 2010 is looking to be another banner year.
As you read this coffee growers in Costa Rica are deep in harvest season. The bright red berries pepper the green landscape and every day the roads are packed with trucks moving the ripe berries for processing. Almost everyone I speak to in the south is involved in one way or the other. If they aren’t out harvesting their own fields then they are helping their neighbors, friends, or family. Needless to say, coffee is a huge industry for Costa Rica, constituting 28% of all of its exports.
Among Kiva borrowers, who represent the working class of Costa Rica, the percentage of those who rely on coffee as a means to a living is even higher. Of the 697 Kiva loans made so far to Costa Rica, 176 of these have been to independent coffee producers. Even if the loans are not used directly for coffee production, most borrowers rely on the economic activity spurred by coffee growers. When you support Kiva borrowers in Costa Rica you support coffee.
Use this day to bring up a discussion of Kiva with your local coffee shop. Ask if they support independent growers like our Kiva borrowers. You might even suggest setting up a Kiva sign next to their register encouraging patrons to support the growers that make it all possible.
I leave you with a video on coffee produced by Kiva Fellow class 9 alum, Karl.'
Gabriel Francis is a Kiva Fellow with FUDECOSUR in southern Costa Rica. Though he enjoys the Costa Rica coffee shops too, he misses his local Stumptown Coffee dearly. Oh, and a salute to all locally owned coffee shops around the world that support direct and fair trade. We love you!