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148. El Pinal – Heads in the clouds, feet on the ground

The members of the El Pinal cooperative have their heads in the clouds, literally.  Their offices and their mill are perched on a narrow peak of the Cordillera del Bálsamo that is as often as not wrapped in mist and clouds.  But the organization is seeing its future clearly and thinking in ways they haven’t since El Pinal was founded in 1980.

After 30 years of selling their coffee in cherry form to a local mill, El Pinal processed its own coffee for the first time in its history after the 2009/10 harvest.  The cooperative took this important step in a way that is consistent with their commitment to conserve their natural resources – using an “ecopulper” that virtually eliminates water altogether from the wet milling process.

Milling its own coffee helped El Pinal save money.  It helped the cooperative take greater control of the quality of its coffee.  It also gave the organization access to its coffee pulp, which it will be using to produce fertilizer for the area it has committed to farming organically.  From its founding members to the new generation of young leaders in El Pinal, everyone seems to be dreaming big about the future.

Don Vicente, founding member of El Pinal.

Name: El Pinal

Established: 1980

Members: 36

Location: Jayaque, La Libertad

Elevation: 900-1400 m

Volume: 953 sacks (69 kg)

Certifications: Fair Trade, 61 acres in organic transition

Contact: Jorge García, President, ++ 503-2441-7805

El Pinal’s coffee is exported by APECAFE and available in the United States exclusively through Equal Exchange.

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