It all started a few years ago when we met Marina at a filter coffee workshop at BachserMärt Kalkbreite. Over the years our paths have crossed again and again, be it at parties or as contractors for JEFF.
JEFF – that’s the name of the communications agency in Zurich where Marina works as a project manager. But back to the coffee. Marina’s curiosity about the topic, from bean to cup, has grown stronger and stronger over the years and so she decided to go on her second coffee trip to Nicaragua in summer 2017. But that’s probably best told by herself:
“Nueva Segovia, Nicaragua. Here, I traded in my everyday agency life in Zurich for rubber boots and a priceless cultural trip for just under 10 weeks. Ocotal was my home for this time, a mountain village in the coffee hills of Nicaragua, 9,263 km as the crow flies from Zurich and 225km from the capital Managua. As in most parts of the country, the inhabitants live mainly from coffee and tobacco cultivation.
Already two years ago, during a sabbatical between my longtime job at the telecom company Orange and my start into the agency life at JEFF, I accidentally ended up at Claudia’s farm “El Arbol” near Ocotal. During four weeks I lived with 3 other Celes (whites) as one of the first exchange volunteers of the project on the remote farm in Dipilto Viejo overlooking the hills of Honduras. During the day we walked with Benito, the man in charge of the workers, through the swampy hills, meandering between the countless coffee plants of the farm of almost 40 hectares and learning a lot about planting the coffee, diseases of the bushes and the whole harvesting process until the export of the green – or as the Nicaraguans call them – the golden beans.
I kept in touch with Claudia and also met her boyfriend Tim during a visit to Belgium. Together we brainstormed for joint projects on the farm. We shared our values in many ways and found motivation and interest in the same areas; however, it quickly became clear to me that such a heartfelt project for me also involved a move to Nicaragua, which I was not ready for. Nevertheless, I did not want to miss the chance to live and help out for a time with Claudia and Tim in the project and on the farm, and so I traveled to Ocotal in the winter of 2017/2018, where I experienced the heated but all the more exciting harvest season with them and the whole team. I gained my first experience in cupping, attended barista trainings at the national coffee school, and learned countless things about the challenges, developments, and potentials in the coffee sector, not least thanks to the conversations during our many car rides between the drymill, farm, coffee school, and craft stores.
I am all the more pleased – thanks to the support of miró, Kaffeemacher, Tim and Claudia – to be able to import an exclusive year’s supply of coffee from el Árbol for our agency through JEFF. JEFF not only allowed me to take time off for my personal development without hesitation, but now also shares my joy and motivation for coffee and with the import directly supports the project and the incredible work of Tim & Claudia on site including all the workers on the farm.”