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Journey to Origin: Sarah Elliott, South Wacker Cafe Manager, in Guatemala & Colombia

Posted by Tay-Lann Mark on

Image of Sarah Elliott, Store Manager for Mojo South Wacker

Sarah, our Manager at Mojo South Wacker in Chicago, was part of the Mojo team that visited Guatemala and Colombia in February to meet the farmers who grow the coffee we drink in our cafes every day. Here are some of the highlights from the first few days of the trip.

Image of Kayoko, a trainer in Mojo New Zealand, riding in the back of a truck.

First day in Guatemala and we’re already traveling the local way- back of a pick-up truck. Traveling through the farms while exposed to the fresh air, the scent of coffee, and the best views Guatemala has to offer was an incredible experience.

  Image of the Mojo team (left to right) Massimo, Kayoko, Sarah and Steve, standing with Armando, center.

In this area coffee is not just a job, but shapes people’s entire lives. Armando, a farmer we currently source coffee from, has worked these three hectares since he was a young boy next to his father. At 1560m, his farm in Santa Rosa grows mostly catuai varietal.

Image of an older woman picking coffee cherries.

Walking through the trees, I found this women hand picking. Unfortunately my Spanish wasn’t good enough to start a conversation but she looked up and smiled before going back to work. Hand picking increases cost and labor but keeps the trees in better condition than strip picking, and ensure only the ripest cherries make it to the mills.

An image of the wet mill, with two large volcanos in the distance, shrouded in clouds.

We spent the evening at el Beneficio Santa Barbara, a local wet mill where cherries from multiple farms are sent to be processed. The two volcanos in the background, Fuego and Acatenango, provide not just a stunning view, but also the rich soil that helps coffee flourish in this area.

Image of a man emptying coffee cherries from a sack onto a large pile of cherries.

I was like a kid again, running around watching the day’s pick being delivered to the local wet mill to be processed. Because of the high volume of water needed by the machines used in Guatemala, you often find these larger wet mills that process multiple farms in the area.

 Image of the Mojo team, and some other people, standing for a photo.

Stay tuned for more stories from Origin!