Nevacos coffee producer Rodrigo Becerra Moreno and his family sort through coffee processed at his home located in Agua Linda, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Santa Marta, Colombia. (Photo by Morgan Arnold)

Ground Up Investing: Cultivating a better future for farmers and the planet

  • Emily Esworthy
  • Apr 27, 2020

Rodrigo Moreno wouldn’t normally have the time to sit and chat.

As a coffee producer in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in northern Colombia, he has spent many years putting all his time and energy into his product: planting, tending, processing, drying and milling the fragrant beans.

But he barely made enough money for his family to survive. He constantly battled high debt, low income and perpetually poor financial security — a cycle he couldn’t break on his own, no matter how hard he worked or how good his coffee was.

Investing in quality coffee and quality of life

Then Nevacos, a specialty coffee company, changed Moreno’s life by offering to buy his coffee cherries. Supported by Ground Up Investing, Nevacos pays farmers more than 50% above normal market prices for their high-quality crops, then uses an eco-friendly process to produce a unique specialty product using a fraction of the water of conventional processing.

Moreno says working with Nevacos has eliminated significant stress, while bringing him more peace, security and a better quality of life by paying him a higher price.

“With Nevacos, I save time from not processing my coffee, which gives me more time for other things like spending time with my family and searching for other sources of income.”

Not to mention, he was able to take a few moments to chat with Lutheran World Relief about growing coffee, a luxury he wouldn’t have had time to do before.

Supporting coffee producers during the COVID-19 crisis

Though Lutheran World Relief field operations and interactions with farmers have been temporarily reduced or suspended due to COVID-19, fortunately the season’s harvest was complete and all farmers affiliated with our supported brands — Mountain Harvest and Nevacos — were paid for their crops prior to coronavirus-related delays and shutdowns in early 2020.

At Nevacos, 90% of the beans had been processed and sent to Bogota for sorting and packaging before any delays or restrictions arose. Though production has seen little effect to date, buyers are delaying making purchases due to the pandemic. To mitigate these delays, Ground Up Investing is providing a small loan to support Nevacos during this time, with the hope that the Colombian government will increase economic measures to protect the nation’s coffee producers.

At Mountain Harvest, the first shipment of the season was already on its way from Uganda to Counter Culture in the U.S. when the pandemic-related closures began. We continue to track the shipment’s progress. While non-essential businesses are closed, the biggest challenge will be in the logistics of getting the coffee where it needs to go.

As investors, we are committed to walking alongside our brands to help them grow and succeed, not just financially but also in their social missions to improve the well-being of farmers like Moreno and our planet.

Emily Esworthy, Apr 27, 2020 email