In 2014, Ryan graduated from college when he found himself a few months later in Guatemala working at a few hostels, restaurants, and a local non-profit. After the end of 3 months in Guatemala, Ryan took a bus to a town called Quetzaltenango to attend a series of Spanish classes. It was on that bus where Ryan met Carlos and Tiffany. After a great conversation, Carlos invited Ryan to his home in Yepocapa where Ryan learned about a school they're involved with.
Colegio Berea is a primary school that prides itself in its academic performance and its servant heart towards the surrounding community. Colegio Berea has excellent teachers and a small teacher-to-student ratio, which gives them a unique ability to help students of all backgrounds. Their students, 60% whom come from coffee farming families, receive national and community recognition year after year.
Ryan began to teach English at the school with the help of Carlos' older brother Chino. Over those three months, Chino and Ryan became friends and they began to fall in love with the kids at the school and the surrounding community. With a few minor financial struggles present at the school, Chino and Ryan wanted to see if there were ways to help. During this time, friends of Ryan from back home began to request coffee, which inspired an idea to use coffee as an avenue to enact change. When Ryan returned home with a sample bag of coffee from Yepocapa, coffee roasters responded with amazement over its content, flavor, and overall quality.
Chino knew of a coffee cooperative in Yepocapa called La San Pedrana. La San Pedrana is a smaller cooperative of approxiamltely 60 coffee farmers. Chino began to develop relationships with these coffee farmers and began to see if it would be possible to buy and export coffee from them in order to advocate for the school.
One year later, La San Pedrana received their export license which accomplished what typically takes a minimum of 3 years! Ryan returned back to Guatemala in October-November of 2015 and began to meet the farmers. Although Ryan and Chino initially entered this line of work inspired by the school, they soon realized that meeting the farmers changed the way they thought about coffee and the economics that govern the farmers lives. As an attempt to honor these farmers and their coffee, Yepocapa Coffee was born.
It was in these fields where the idea of connecting coffee farmers with coffee consumers came alive. We enjoyed spending so much time with these coffee farmers that we began to ask questions like, "How many people know the person who picked their coffee? Or even know their name or information about them?!" And so we decided that this was going to one of our biggest aims; to connect coffee consumers with coffee farmers through videos, blogs, photos, and even opportunities for people to travel to Yepocapa and met these farmers for themselves.
Since our small beginnings in 2015, we have loved every moment of Yepocapa Coffee. The opportunity to meet coffee farmers and to advocate for them through these various means while seeing the reactions of coffee lovers here in the States has honestly been surreal for us all! We're thankful for the hard work of the farmers that has helped to produce a tasty cup never before revealed and for the opportunity to distribute their coffee.