Producer Profiles

COOCAFE - Cooperativa dos Cafeicultores da Região de Lajinha

COOCAFE was founded in 1979 in the city of Lajinha in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, to strengthen coffee planters of this region. Having faced many economic struggles throughout the years, farmers believed their cooperative was strong enough to keep its members’ spirits high. Today, the cooperative remains successful, determined and consistent in their product. It is located between the forest regions of Minas Gerais and the mountains of the Espírito Santo state. The climate is predominantly humid and the land sees a substantial amount of rainfall throughout the year. Most of the region is used for farming by families usually owning between five and ten hectares of land.

COOCAFE is one of several Brazilian producer groups participating in the Responsible Sourcing Partnership (RSP) project. The RSP project is a result of a partnership between USAID, Fair Trade USA, Walmart Stores, Inc. and SEBRAE-MG, designed to improve the quality of Brazilian coffee, increase market linkages and raise producer capacity. Through participation in the RSP project, COOCAFE has improved its infrastructure which has resulted in higher quality coffee, and has benefited from targeted training programs and increased contact with the U.S. coffee market.
 

Quotable

I've been selling to the coop for 15 years now. After Fair Trade, things got a lot better. Fair trade has helped a lot. Before we didn't have have an agronomist and today we do. The coffee has improved a lot because the agronomist are here helping. It was only with the Fair Trade premium that we were able to contract these agronomists... The price is still pretty low for us, but our costs have lowered… the coffee sack project has helped a lot, it benefits everyone, not just a few.  

Conceção pez de Costa

Participating in the last SCAA conference in Minesota was a very important experience for us. We had the opportunity as a group of Brazilians to visit Sam's Club-Wal -Mart, where our coffee is being displayed and sold! It was such a rewarding experience to receive the feedback of a consumer who told us that they liked our coffee! This was a great moment for us.  

Fernando R. Cerqueira, Coocafe president

In response to the Question, "What would you say to a US consumer of your coffee?"
Irene says: "I hope they like our product. We choose to make a good product, a healthy product. We like good things and we want others to enjoy good things as well."  

Irene Tavares Vega

Programs

Health education on agrochemicals

Members and their children are taught about the safe handling of agrochemicals and PPEs.

Rural schools built for further education

Coocafé built rural schools throughout the region, providing basic education to an average of 1,000 children each year.

Grant for Coffee Sacks

COOCAFE subsidized the total costs of coffee sacks for its members. The cooperative gave sacks to each member in accordance with how much coffee they were selling through the cooperative.