The newest cafe at Atlanta airport’s international terminal serves more than just a cup of coffee.
Georgia-based Cafe Campesino‘s second Atlanta retail outlet also shows that with the right recipe, companies can grow while benefiting both customers and suppliers – in this case, coffee farming cooperatives that have grown with the company.
“There are things you can do to fool a farmer co-op, and things you can do to treat them right. We treat them right,” Tripp Pomeroy, CEO of Cafe Campesino, told GlobalAtlanta.
The coffee company prides itself on adherence to the membership guidelines of the Fair Trade Federation in Washington, including transparency in dealings, guaranteed minimum prices and peer-review of business practices.
There may be good karma coming from Cafe Campesino’s samaritanism. The company has flourished since its opening 14 years ago.
In the mid-1990s, Cafe Campesino co-founder Bill Harris was on a Habitat for Humanity mission at a Guatemalan coffee farm. He was intrigued, and when he got back home began researching the coffee trade.
Mr. Harris discovered that individual farmers – who might grow 1,000 lbs. a year – were unable to leverage their product with importers looking to fill 40,000-pound shipping containers.
Coffee cooperatives had been springing up, however, unifying multiple small-scale farmers to give them the clout to demand fairer prices. He traveled back to Guatemala in 1997 to meet with these cooperatives and develop his supply chain.
In 1999, with his supply of coffee solidified, Mr. Harris needed more resources for distribution. So he organized seven East Coast buyers, including Cafe Campesino, into Cooperative Coffees.
Today, Georgia-based Cooperative Coffees boasts 23 members, from Rosemary Beach, Fla., to Yukon Territories, Canada, and collectively imports $5 million worth of coffee from countries in Africa, Asia and South America annually.
Cafe Campesino alone from its headquarters in Americus annually imports more than 200,000 lbs. of coffee from 11 different countries, selling beans wholesale to independent coffee shops, online through its company website and in its cafes.
Even with the growth, Cafe Campesino hasn’t forgotten its roots. Its leaders travel from the Atlanta airport to farmer cooperatives at least three times a year, said Mr. Pomeroy.
He joked that Mr. Harris has been to Guatemala so many times now that he knows it like the back of his hand.
Mr. Harris will be traveling to Guatemala again this October and has begun taking both customers and employees with him to meet the farmers who grow their coffee.
Mr. Pomeroy, too, travels frequently to visit the farmers. He also takes others along, including humanitarian representatives from the U.S. Agency for International Development and Catholic Relief Services.
In a case of humanitarian networking, these organizations are introduced to rural farm communities in need of aid via Cafe Campesino’s established connections.
Cafe Campesino’s commitment to community was a strong selling point for its choice of Atlanta locations. The first Atlanta cafe it opened was in the Sweet Auburn Curb Market on Edgewood Avenue, which was established in 1918.
When The Paradies Shops LLC opened the Sweet Auburn Market in the international terminal, Cafe Campesino jumped at the chance to continue as a part of the market’s Atlanta heritage.
For more information on Cafe Campesino, visit www.cafecampesino.com. For more on the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal go http://www.atlanta-airport.com/internationalterminal.