"the trusted voice of teens who travel"
November 20th, 2011
In my last article concerning the process of making coffee, I discussed how I learned how to make coffee myself. However, there’s more to the procedure than simply the bare facts of how to manufacture it. What about the people who pick the Guatemalan mountainsides daily, struggling to earn a living?
Most indigenous Guatemalans make much less than the minimum wage of U.S standards. They also tend to have very little affordable healthcare, poor educational systems and most to all of them struggle constantly to scrape together enough money for a simple meal and shelter. Many of them work from before daybreak until the sun sets each day, but still earn much less than they ought.
This is the current situation for many of the coffee harvesters that pick the mountainsides of the Guatemalan highlands. Some begin as early as fifteen, and will work until they are too old to climb the steep incline of the volcanoes, or too sick or infirm to continue. They spend long hours in the broiling heat of the tropics, laboriously picking each red berry one by one. The berries topple down over each other into the canvas sacks as the pickers’ brown fingers fly through the coffee plants, carefully extracting each and every berry from the leafy jungle of plants for hours at a time.
Then, even after picking the berries and hauling pounds of them by foot down the mountain a few miles, the job is not done. Workers must go through the entire process described in Guatemalan Coffee: Part 1. And all this done under the sweltering heat of a Guatemalan day. Could you do it? I couldn’t willingly.
The worst part: for all of their hard work, most coffee workers are not paid what you would expect is due them. Some coffee buyers make sure to buy from companies who are a part of the fair trade organization. This practice is becoming more and more common around the world as news of the unfair treatment of workers spreads. Workers are treated unfairly not only in Guatemala, but in multiple other countries including our own.
When you buy coffee, make sure that it is coming from a fair trade operator. This will help Guatemalans and other needy people from around the globe make a better existence for themselves. After all, for all that hard work that they do for us, I think they ought to be getting treated well. Don’t you?