The coffee industry often appears to be shrouded in mystery to the average consumer, who may not know the origin of what they are drinking, let alone how it came to be in their cup.
With a greater need for social and environmental responsibility making waves, Tim Adams of Tim Adams Specialty Coffee founded the Chapola Project, a funding initiative that was created to aid in bettering the lives of the unsung heroes of the coffee industry – the farmers.
Tim, the winner of the Australian Barista Championship 2009 and the Queensland Barista Championship in 2010 and 2011, says the Chapola project is “a collaboration by four specialty coffee roasters – Tim Adams Specialty Coffee, Dramanti Artisan Roaster, The Maling Room. and Cloud Catcher – with the intention to improve the quality of life for coffee producers around the world.”
The Chapola Project was inspired by a trip to Honduras. The trip included Tim and other members of the coffee community, who traveled to Honduras during the filming of 2015 World Barista Champion Sasa Sestic’s documentary The Coffee Man.
“We were planting those baby trees in Honduras. It was really a cool moment. We all knew each other and were saying, well, this is actually ‘it’, this is where coffee begins.” Tim explains.
“Then we all kind of looked at each other at almost the same time, and said, ‘We should be doing more with this, we should be doing more at origin. What can we actually do to help and to give back, rather than just buying their coffee? Surely there are other ways we can help’.”
Producer Jorge Lanza Jr told the group one story after another about the hardships of each individual producer, and what they have to go through and the struggles they have on that particular mountain.
“He spoke about what they needed to make a better life for themselves, and also be able to sell their coffee at a higher price, and what we can do to help assist that process,” Tim says.
“That’s definitely the ‘hairs on the back of your neck’ kind of moment for me in coffee, after nearly 10 years of being in the coffee industry.”
Tim Adams Specialty Coffee employee, Tilly Sproule, five-time winner of the ASCA Northern Region Barista Championship, and judge at Dalla Corte’s annual Flow Profile Competition, provides insight into what the Chapola project has accomplished so far.
“Our latest project is working with a group of Indigenous producers within the Inza, Cauca region of Colombia. Their long-term goal has been to certify all their farms organic, to improve quality in cup and performance of organic coffee,” says Tilly. “We have also constructed Parabolic Drying Beds for the Matao Women in Coffee Group in Brazil. We helped fund the build of Parabolic Drying Beds through our Chapola Project in collaboration with Capricornio Coffees and Condesa Co-Lab.
“We helped get a sprayer for Ellen Fontana from Brazil. Our relationship with Ellen started roughly five years ago, we raised money through our Chapola Project for the purchase of a mechanical sprayer to assist her in managing micro spiders that are attacking her coffee trees. Ellen now has the confidence to continue producing outstanding lots, and the ability to sell her entire crop.
“In 2019, Consuela Sabillon owner of La Joya, devastatingly lost her entire coffee production to extreme cold weather conditions. We were extremely saddened to hear that not only were we unable to purchase and share her coffees but that she didn’t have any coffee to sell. Through Chapola Project we have helped purchase and plant entire new crops and assist her with implementing better farming practices to not only improve cup quality, but also sustainable coffee farming and management for the future.”
The Chapola Project even has programs running locally.
“Lawrence Norton has a non for profit mobile bus called Twice as Nice Gallery Café, which travels around Australia and aims to alleviate the financial burden on families with sick children. Currently, Laurie is in WA and providing training and education to the Women at Melaluca Womens Prison using coffee funded through our Chapola Project,” Tilly says.
Recently, the Chapola Project purchased its own coffee farm with the Lanza family. On the farm, sustainable farming practices and coffee education will be available to share with others, like Tim, who want to know how they can help make a better future for the coffee industry and all those who work within it.
“This land has been untouched and untamed on the El Cielito mountain range in Santa Barbara, the Lanza family has always wanted to produce coffee from this side of the mountain, however, they have not had the resources or money to do so,” Tilly says.
“With so much potential, we intend to use the farm as an education tool for group visits and tours for exploring origin, coffee farming, processing, harvest techniques and more. The purchase of this farm is our most exciting project to date.”
Tim adds that hopefully, in time, with a better standard for practice the coffee industry can correct the negative social and environmental impact that low-wage and high-demand have caused in coffee-producing countries.
For more information, or to donate, visit www.timadams.net.au