Chapín (Chah-peen) is a native word (slightly comical) used to describe Guatemalans who embody tardiness, an ability to pioneer around the city, and the consumption of a local sweet bread called "pan tostadas." After a few months of living in Guatemala, I received the privilege of being called a Chapin due to my incessant desire for these pan tostadas and my gradual descent towards tardiness.
Although most Guatemalans aren't overly absent or late, I've had the opportunity to meet the heart of the country; the people. Guatemalans are overly friendly and joyfully sacrifice what they have for others. If you ask them to walk a mile with you, they'll walk two miles instead.
In my last trip to Guatemala, I got the chance to meet a different group of Guatemalans. Coffee farmers- locally known as Campesinos. Campesinos are incredibly joyful and funny. It's easy to notice their cheerful conversations amongst themselves while picking ripe coffee cherries. We've even played a game of hide-and-seek finding ourselves lost in these mountainous fields of coffee.
Prior to spending some amount of time with coffee farmers, I had some mental envisioning of sad, impoverished, hardworking farmers. Although I'm unsure of why I had this perception, I saw that there was a plethora of data out on the web explaining the various systems of economic oppression contributing to the poverty within coffee farming communities. For example, the World Bank lists Guatemala among the poorest counties in Central America with a poverty rate of 53.7%.
Although there are statistical facts to support the reality of this poverty, I've found that although Campesinos may lack in financial resources, they make up for in their culture and even way of life. They are quite joyful and seem to enjoy life despite the tin framed houses and the campfire stoves. They make you feel like you're the only one important when they're sitting beside you. And their smile,... it's contagious!
We believe that seeing Guatemalans in this light, a rather accurate light, changes the way we work with coffee farmers. Instead of seeing them as poor people needing money, they're friends in whom we'd like to see them succeed and live well. There's an exchange that happens here. As we work collaboratively in our respective business', we begin to exchange with one another what we have. And for the most part, I've found that to be laughter and friendship. Although of course, there is money involved and we're thankful to be able to pay our farmers well and directly. But to summarize, we don't work with poor people (at least from that perspective); instead, we work with those who we consider to be rich! Rich in friendship, love, and coffee heritage.
It's the difference between pity and honor. It allows us to see these farmers as friends. Our hope with Yepocapa Coffee is to be able to share this friendship with the world as we sell their coffee to people like you.