Cooperativa La Voz que Clama en el Desierto or “the voice the cries out in the desert”, is located on the shores of Lago Atitlán in the Tz’utujil Maya community of San Juan La Laguna.
Established by 20 farmers in 1977 under the shade of a ceiba (the tree of life), this family-based cooperative has over 600 individual members and dedicates itself to growing and processing high-quality organic coffee as a way to secure a sustainable future for the community and its cultural traditions.
Profits from the sale of their organic-certified beans are reinvested in the cooperative and used to build infrastructure, fund social services, and promote capacity building.
The coffee industry, like so many others in Guatemala, has always been dominated by large landowners with smallholder farmers earning as little as 7 cents for a 1lb of their coffee fruit. But in 2005 seven farmers from San Miguel Escobar along with a volunteer from the US planted an idea and began to process their own beans.
From these humble beginnings, this tight-knit group has become pioneers in the industry, forming their own coop and an NGO dedicated to supporting other small producers. They acquired access to an export license and now help an alliance of small coops secure better prices and export their gourmet coffee.
Located in Guatemala’s “boca costa” or the mouth of pacific coast, Santa Anita is home to 35 families, five different languages (Spanish & 4 Mayan), and one very unique coffee coop.
In 1998, after 36 years of civil war, a group of former revolutionaries who had spent the better part of their lives in the mountains fighting for a brighter future decided to trade in their arms for tools of the coffee trade and rebuild their lives on an abandoned finca or farm. They’re still fighting for a better world, now they just use the sale of high-quality coffee and bananas to build infrastructure, fund schools, and feed their families.