Outside the Bean is a 501c3 non-profit partnership between Just Coffee Co-op and Community Action on Latin America. Started initially as Beyond the Bean, we’ve changed the name to Outside the Bean. The organization promotes and coordinates community to community partnerships between dedicated people in the US and coffee farming families in Latin America.
Outside the Bean from the Just Coffee Cooperative perspective:
JC has grown exponentially since its inception– we quickly surpassed all of our sales expectations growing over 100% a year for our first five years of business. As we grew we continually thumbed our nose at standard business practices and math in particular. We insisted on trying to “do it all” and we were not overly concerned with making sure that the numbers actually allowed for that.
In our first five years we attempted to use money from our operations to fund development projects in the communities of the people who grew the coffee that we roast. We had some small successes, but overall there were two results that we saw repeatedly:
1) We could not properly fund these projects because we did not have enough money
2) We could not properly administrate initiatives because we did not have the presence or the expertise to pull them off over a period of time.
On top of that, we were hurting the business by taking money needed to fund our operations and sending it elsewhere.
Although we strive to bring farmers a better price for the coffee they grow, the reality is that many still cannot make ends meet. For many of the cooperatives we work with, better prices still do not guarantee farmers a secure food supply and access to clean water.
Coffee production as a singular subsistence strategy is not a sustainable way of life for most farmers. Helping farmers plan for a more diverse livelihood and to lessen dependence on coffee is an important component in a truly sustainable coffee industry.
The idea behind this non profit is to support the communities we are already working with carry out projects related to access to water, food security, and education. As outsiders, we lack the local knowledge needed to successfully deal with these issues facing coffee growing communities. Because of that, we hope to use this nonprofit to research, find, and connect NGOs that are already working on the ground.
We strive to promote: Self reliance, food security, water security, education, health care, and diversification from strict dependence on coffee.
We attempt to avoid: Fostering A dependence on outsiders and export markets as well as a patriarchal structure of charity.
We invite the communities where we live and work to join Just Coffee Co-op and CALA in building Outside the Bean into a true community to community support project that lives the fair trade ideal of truly connecting and forming friendships with the people who we interact with in the global market place, but rarely have the opportunity to see or know.