The Cooperativa Agrícola y de Servicios Varios Río Azul is located in the remote western Guatemalan town of Jacaltenango, settled in the valley of the same name. All members of the cooperative are of the Mayan group Jacaltec, also commonly called Pobp’ al Ti’ or Popti people. Founded in 1967, the cooperative has a long history of producing some of the best coffee exported under the famed “Huehuetenango” mark.
The members of Rio Azul all live no more than a 1.5 hour walk to the wet mill in Jacaltenango. This allows the cooperative complete control over several stages of the quality process. Coffee is picked by members until early afternoon and then delivered in cherry form to the mill each afternoon. The coffee is de-pulped, fermented and washed at the centralized wet-mill and then spread out to sun-dry on the adjacent patios. The parchment is stored in their warehouse awaiting export. As the shipping day approaches the coffee is transferred to Guatemala City for final processing and export preparation in an organic dry mill.
Due to the careful attention given each step of the way – from farmer to final processing – and the excellent growing conditions in this area, Rio Azul coffee comes in consistently pungent dark chocolate aromas, sweet, citric acidity and a long, lingering finish of delicately balanced flavors. Rio Azul farmers work hard to maintain these high standards. Collectively – they strive to become more financially sustainable and self-sufficient as a cooperative and to provide members with greater technical assistance to improve yields and improve coffee and shade tree management.
Coop Coffee first “discovered” Rio Azul following a roaster / producer exchange in Quetzaltenango in 2005. Timing was perfect as Rio Azul was undergoing its own organizational restructuring and looking for commercial clients interested in trading fair and direct. We imported our first container of Rio Azul coffee in 2006 and have been savoring our allocated, annual container-loads of their fine coffee ever since!
Cooperativa Agrícola y de Servicios Varios Río Azul
Social Premium Investment: 2019 Crop YearFair Trade Certification guarantees 20 cents/lb of the price paid a producer organization is set aside as a social premium. How this money is invested is a decision taken collectively by the general assembly of members at the end of each harvest. Below is a break down of how producers in this organization chose to spend their fair trade premium.
Additional IncomeFor each quintla of parchment coffee, there is an additional premium paid to the producer.
Improve YieldsEach member received a package of productive inputs, depending on e whether they were organic or conventional producers/
InfastructureThis percentage of funds was set aside to conduct renovations at the central processing plant, including the construction of a new water-recirculation pond, a water pump, roofing for a warehouse area, roofing fo the pulp collection area and new electrical wiring for the facility.
Healthcare supportHealthcare and educational support for cooperative employees.