This week at TransFair USA, we are celebrating a great victory for Fair Trade Certified coffee:
We are pleased to announce that coffee produced by Central de Cooperativas Agrarias Cafetaleras  (CECOVASA), a coffee cooperative from the Lake Titicaca region of Peru, was voted Peru's best coffee of the year at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s 22 nd  Annual Symposium & Exposition . The coffee then went on to win the People's Choice Award, which was determined after the SCAA Exposition coffee industry attendees tasted and voted upon the nine origin winners. In the world of coffee, this award is an incredible honor. It reflects not only incredible dedication to their trade, but also a commitment to overall coffee taste and quality.
"This coffee stole the show at the competition; people could not stop talking about it. Although the sample was specially prepared for the competition, it really shows what is possible when quality is the goal." - Wendy De Jong, Vice President and Director of Coffee for Tony's Coffee  of Bellingham, WA.
This winning lot was produced by CECOVASA member Wilson Sucaticoma, who grows specialty, organic coffee on his 3-hectare farm in Sandia, Peru . It hasn't been easy for small farmers like Mr. Sucaticoma to reach the extremely high standards of the Roasters Guild Coffees of the Year Competition,  but CECOVASA, like many Fair Trade cooperatives, invested Fair Trade premiums in ways that would improve the quality of their coffee. The cooperative built a cupping laboratory and instituted a quality-control training program and purchased new farming equipment, including 40 de-pulping machines, 1,000 pruning saws and three humidity scales. These investments were critical in the production of Mr. Sucaticona’s prize-winning coffee.
Fair Trade prices and community development funds have also enabled CECOVASA to establish various social and productive programs, including funding for education, and the development of programs to promote women’s leadership and empowerment.
"We are so proud that the coffee selected for the People's Choice Award came from a Fair Trade Certified cooperative. The odds have been stacked against these small-scale family farmers for many years; yet this is an example of how Fair Trade empowers farmers to take control of their production as they invest in quality improvement. They have worked extremely hard and could not be more deserving of this recognition." - Paul Rice, President and CEO of TransFair USA.
When the CECOVASA was founded in 1970, its first members dedicated themselves to finding a better way to sell their coffee. In the past these farmers sold their beans to intermediaries, who typically paid less than half the market price. But as of today, the cooperative has gained so much momentum that the intermediaries no longer even work in the area.
Now comprised of primarily indigenous Quechua  and Aymará , CECOVASA is a true success story for small farmers around the world. With the help of Fair Trade, the local people of these farming communities are able to earn a higher price for their coffee, allowing them to continue working the land that has sustained their families for centuries.
"Winning the People's Choice Award at SCAA is, to us, the most important award in the world. It represents many years of hard work and a focus on improving the quality of our coffee so that it is competitive. It is an example of the great strides that can be made with the financial support and market connections that Fair Trade fosters. We are so grateful for the support and encouragement from TransFair USA, and we are proud to accept this award as a symbol of what all Fair Trade cooperatives have the potential to achieve." - Miguel Paz, Commercial Manager at CECOVASA.
To learn more about CECOVASA, take a look at their profile on the TransFair USA website.