Adelante Coffee Infuses Social Good into Every Cup
Bay Area-based social enterprise funds education in Honduras and attracts customers looking to give back
If someone asked you where your coffee came from, what would you say? You might think of a gleaming specialty coffee shop or gathering in your office kitchen. Perhaps you’re familiar with your coffee’s region of origin, such as Latin America or Africa. In some cases, you might even know the country and varietal of the beans.
At Adelante Coffee, I think of the names of our farmers. The sound of the community’s only bus that visits town three times a week. The smell of corn being ground for tortillas mingling with the crisp mountain air — a stark contrast from the city smog. And the faces of young men and women who have overcome so many obstacles to attend school for the first time.
Adelante is a direct trade coffee company that works with farmers and their families in Honduras. For decades, the country has struggled with gang violence and drug trafficking, as well as political and economic instability.
Working in rural communities across Honduras, I’ve seen the startlingly few options available for young people. Nearly 80% of rural youth can’t afford school fees, so many young people are forced to join a gang or marry early, cutting short their dreams for an education.
The coffee industry offers a new way forward for many families. However, the prices offered by most specialty coffee buyers — even those who identify as fair trade — is rarely enough to provide a living wage. While their coffee may be sold for nearly $5 a cup, many coffee producers earn an average of only $5 a day.
What makes Adelante Coffee different? First of all, we trade directly with producers. That means there are no middlemen and producers take home higher incomes to their families. One of our producers more than doubled her income after ending her work with a middleman and joining Adelante.
We also educate producers on how to improve and protect their plants to ensure their premium-level quality is preserved. It’s a win-win: Our customers receive a fantastic bag of coffee, and producers receive the best prices possible for their beans.
Finally, the profits from sales of Adelante coffee are invested in an initiative to provide affordable secondary school education to the children of smallholder agricultural producers. Our nonprofit partner, Educate2Envision, works in isolated rural communities that are off the radar of most charitable organizations.
But how does Adelante Coffee taste? Our all-natural single-origin coffee is grown in two communities hidden among the mountains of Central Honduras. Small batches of premium coffee beans are shade-grown beneath banana and orange trees and slowly sun-dried to perfection.
Each batch is treated like oro, or “gold,” the local term for green coffee beans. The beans are cupped and scored by experts before packaging. Our medium dark roast, Zurzular microlot, has a smooth body and notes of sweet caramel, chocolate, and citrus.
Some of our earliest customers are startups who saw in Adelante a shared desire for social impact. You could think of it as connecting entrepreneurs across the globe.
We share photos and messages from our coffee producers with our customers, and many have attached the postcards to their coffee machines. Every morning, they’re reminded of the impact of drinking coffee with a cause.
We’re proud to help these fast-growing companies fuel their productivity while fueling education around the world. Our hope is that we can pave the way for more startups to make real commitments to social impact, especially within their daily work culture.
As Adelante Coffee grows, I’ll share our learning and progress every step of the way. To request a sample or hear more about our story, send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.