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Two journalism students trek off to the mountains of Nicaragua to report, photograph and document the people who produce our coffee.
Two journalism students trek off to the mountains of Nicaragua to report, photograph and document the people who produce our coffee.
28 backers pledged $1,125 to help bring this project to life.

Recent updates

Queridos amigos de Kickstarter!

Hannah and Mike are extremely exited to announce that all your interest in our How Fair is Fair Trade? project has delivered us to our goal! We thank everyone for the donations, Facebook shares, reading our blogs and reposting our entries. 

It’s been an incredibly humbling month here in Central America. Full of unforgettable experiences – coffee country exploration, bouts of strange illnesses, ridiculous, butt-numbing chicken bus rides, home stays, tortilla making and more. As we write to you we are plane-hopping back to the United States. 

It was an interesting departure with President Daniel Ortega’s re-inauguration and the flood of congratulatory dictators we passed in the airport. This included a spectacular presentation of friendship for Iran President Mr. Muhammad Ahmadinejad, including a red carpet covered by a white awning leading up to a private jet that had IRAN written across the side. Flowers and uniformed men lined the walkway and a band was assembling nearby. 

 Happily we are already working with a few editors to publish this story, so hopefully our venture pays off for more than an amazing experience abroad. Although it’s exciting to see where this project leads in the coming weeks, we do despair at leaving the warmth and friendliness of the Nicaraguan people. 

 Again thank you and we’ll be delivering your rewards shortly. 

 Best wishes, Hannah and Michael

¡Feliz Año Nuevo, Happy New Year!

We’ve hit two holidays so far in Nicaragua and this has shown us an extremely jovial side of Nicaraguan life. Christmas and New Years were filled with raucous music at all hours, homemade firecracker shows and the burning of life-sized dolls to cleanse a person of bad luck in the New Year. 

With 10 days left in our run around Nicaragua we are returning to our starting point: Estelí. This is the home of PRODECOOP, the cooperative we are studying, and many of the country’s coffee producers. 

We had a fascinating conversation with an ex-Peace Corp volunteer who never left Nicaragua after his two-year service term. He grows his own coffee in the Miraflor area, the community where is Nica wife was born and still has family. At first he sold his beans to PRODECOOP but has since found his own roaster and only sells domestically in his Hostel Tortuga Booluda in León and a friend’s hotel on the coast.

At CECOCAFEN, a competing cooperative, we did a coffee cupping. Cupping is where roasters and producers taste, define and control the quality of the coffee right off the farm. Most tasters spit out their mouthful of java to not fill themselves up on coffee before having tasted the other brews. It was a strange sight and sound with a bunch of people slurping and spitting around a table.

Now with so much content, we are beginning to piece pitches and stories together.

Thank you for all encouragement and we’re almost there with our goal.


Hannah and Mike.

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Feliz Navidad

Merry Christmas Eve from Matagalpa.

We've almost had two weeks in Nicaragua. As Christmas approaches, shops are starting to shut down, leaving Hannah and I with a few days to go over the mountains of information we've come across throughout our travels.

Today we visited another cooperative headquarters in Matagalpa called CECOCAFEN and were treated with similar answers we have been receiving. I guess it's time to start organizing research. Hannah is sitting to my right, typing out our first story pitch to Spokane, where hopefully the Spokesman-Review or Northwest Inlander will take us on.

Along with our cooperative visits, we stayed with two amazing families who grow coffee to sell in small scale and to drink in home. We've discovered that the flesh of ripe coffee cherries is sweet and tasty. Some families choose to dry the coffee beans they will consume themselves within the berry's pulp, giving it an intense natural sweetness. Its flavor is very different from the bitter Americano brew. With the international market demanding great quantities of coffee, ripe coffee cherries are immediately stripped of its pulp and allowed to dry for a few days on cement drying pads. The family's allow their coffee to dry for a month and a half inside the fruit. It makes more sense economically that coffee is dried in this high-speed manner.

We'd like to thank you all again for supporting us, and we'll keep updating on our progress. Also we'd like to make another call for help to all those you may know who are looking for last minute gifts and stocking stuffers. We've hit a plateau on our Kickstarter, but if 30 people would donate just $10, we would be there.

Thanks again, and Feliz Navidad!

Mike and Hannah. 

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Saludos Amigos de Estelí

Hola amigos!

We arrived in Estelí this afternoon after a three hour bus ride through the windy volcanos north of Managua, passing through rice and wheat fields. We've endured two long days of travel, and it feels nice to wander the dusty-colorful streets filled with speeding motos and fruit vendors. We started writing post cards in a small-dim café across from our hostel. 

We want to thank all of you for your generous support. We had no idea that we would be this close to our goal only a week in. Tomorrow we set off for PRODECOOP, the coffee cooperative discussed in our pitch, to get a tour of one of the farms. 

Un gran abrazo para todos!

Mike y Hannah