Support Haitian Coffee Week In SABA

Posted on: January 17 2012

We have been involved in fundraising for Haiti since even before the earthquake hit as we held our annual haven lunch to raise funds for Haiti. Since the earthquake they need our support even more and that’s when we decided to use Haitian coffee beans from Java Republic. Please try a cup of delicious Zombie coffee the next time you are in SABA with the knowledge that you are helping their farmers in an ethical sustainable way. Haiti week runs from the 21st -28th January, to promote awareness of the challenges that they face.

The History Behind our Association with Haiti.  The Only Coffee Roaster in Europe who is trading with Haiti.

Java Republic’s philosophy has always been about sharing our passion for fresh, handroasted, superior coffee – with a conscience in a direct, thought-provoking manner that genuinely makes a difference.

Under our Coffee with a Conscience Programme, Java Republic began working directly with a small coffee co-operative in Haiti on a ‘trade-not-aid-initiative’ as part of our contribution to help Haitian coffee farmers trade after the devastating effects of the earthquake in January 2010.

We launched a limited edition Haitian coffee blend into the Irish Foodservice Market on Monday, 28 June 2010.  After consultation with the coffee farmers, the coffee was called Zombi.

The co-operative is an ethical trading company who deal with two groups of coffee farmers from the South East areas of Haiti.  One group consists of 190 farmers and the other group has over 300 farmers.  The purchasing and treatment centre is located in the town of Thiottee, which is part of the general area of ‘Belle Anse.’ This area has small to medium coffee farms with land averaging between 1 and 10ha.

The farmers don’t produce coffee in an intensive manner as they do in Brazil and other industialised countries.  In Haiti, coffee is grown as part of a general ecosystem that usually includes plantains, avocado and citrus trees, which are used for shade.

The usual output of a coffee farm is approximately 400kg to 500kg per had (compared to the general 2500kg per ha in other countries.)  Average income in Haiti per ha is between US $1 200 and US $1 500.

As at January 2011, we have traded over $400 000 worth of Grade 1 Haitian Arabica coffee with Haiti since March 2010.

The Story behind the Unusual Name: Zombi

Although our coffees have unusual names; we didn’t set out to call our Haitian coffee to deliberately dishonour the dead.  Some may say that it happened by design!  It was suggested by the coffee farmers themselves; primarily because Voodun is part of the culture in Haiti, and the coffee comes from the area in Haiti colloquially known as Zombie. We also discovered that there is a definite connection between coffee and Voodun.

Voodun is steeped in secrecy; we can’t go into too much detail as we believe that the actual steps of the ritual of coffee and rum are sacrosanct for those that practice the religion.

We believe that dry coffee is sprinkled in the sign of the cross during incantation.  The priest then goes into a trance and prayer is made to Loa in respect of family, love, happiness, justice, wealth and revenge.  Sometimes a voodoo doll is used to represent the spirit of a specific person, and you can address the doll as if you were talking to that person: requesting a change in attitude or influencing the person to act in accordance with your wishes or desires.

The ritual is then finished off with a sprinkling of the coffee in the sign of the cross.  Coffee and rum are also consumed after the ceremony.  It was also highlighted to us that if you offer up an incantation to try and eliminate someone who is actually innocent, the curse falls back on you.  So consider yourself warned!  You may end up a Zombie!

Zombies are common in Haitian stories and folklore. Researchers studying Haitian Culture have related countless tales of bodies brought back to life by bokor or sorcerers.  These zombies are mindless slaves. They are not self-aware and are not particularly dangerous unless fed salt, which restores their senses.  Read up about Claivius Narcisse – a true documented and authenticated story of a Zombie returned to life.  Naturally we don’t promise anything other than our coffee will restore your pulse.

So on that backdrop we rolled out a brand campaign to suit Zombi for our foodservice outlets.  For the supermarket shelf we have ‘Haitian Espresso Beans’ which has a strength guide of 6.

Blend: Grade 1 Arabica: 50% Haitian, 50% Brazilian

Taste Profile: Heavy smoky, dark chocolates with smooth caramels and a hint of almonds.

Zombi Espresso is a blend of two Grade Arabica Varietals: 50% Haitian and 50% Brazilian.  The taste profile is heavy, smoky, dark chocolates with smooth caramels and a hint of almonds.