Thursday, March 30, 2006

From Ethiopia - the Birthplace of Arabica Coffee - to Traverse City

Tadesse Meskela, the founder and director of the Oromia Coffee Farmers Union in Ethiopia, visits Traverse City and presents on the impact of fair trade on the Ethiopian Countryside

Where: Horizon Books - Cafe Downstairs
When: Friday March 31st at 6:30 pm
What: Presentation about fair trade coffee and environmental sustainability in Ethiopia and free Ethiopian coffee!

Higher Grounds Trading Co is honored to host Tadesse Meskela, the founder and General Manager of Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (OCFCU), the largest fair trade coffee producer in Ethiopia. Tadesse will visit Traverse City, speaking at Horizon Shine Cafe at 6:30 pm on this Friday night (March 31st). Higher Grounds Trading Co. and Horizons Books will be offering free tastings of Oromia's Harrar and Sidamo coffees.

Tadesse has been instrumental in securing a dignified wage for coffee growers in a country where coffee accounts for 65% of its export earnings. Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, has more than 1.2 million coffee growers dependent on coffee for their livelihoods. Admist a life of extreme poverty, Tadesse’s family was the first in his community to send every child to school. He worked as a senior expert in the state Agricultural Bureau before forming Oromia Coffee Farmers’ Cooperative Union in 1999 to support small – scale growers in becoming economically self sufficient and providing their household with adequate food security.

OCFCU was the first organization that could bypass the national coffee auction to sell direct to companies like Higher Grounds Trading Co. Today, OCFCU has 74 member cooperatives representing nearly 75,000 small scale coffee farmers. 11 of OCFCU cooperatives have been certified fair trade and organic since 2000 – representing 9,000 farmers and producing over 3000 tons of organic coffee a year. They also just started a cooperative bank for their members, where growers are finding the means necessary to lift themselves out of poverty. In addition, OCFCU also co-owns a chain of fair trade caf├ęs in Europe with Oxfam International – the first of its kind in which small –scale farmers are actual owners of coffee cafes in consuming countries.

Chris and Jody Treter from Higher Grounds Trading Co., visited Tadesse and the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia last March and currently imports and distruibutes coffee from two different cooperative in Ethiopia from Oromia. Higher Grounds Trading Co. is Michigan’s only 100% fair trade certified coffee company. Their certification guarantees growers a fair wage and supports environmentally sound practices.

Come meet Tadesse, learn about the finest Ethiopian Coffees, and hear inspirational stories from the Birthplace of Coffee!

For questions please contact Higher Grounds Trading Co. at 231.256.9687 or visit

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