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1769 Seashell Ln
Waconia, MN, 55387

952-221-0680

Java Relief is a special kind of coffee retailer. We sell high quality coffee that's fresh roasted, on demand. What makes us unique is that we are a volunteer company and 100% of our profits go directly to children at risk. Our hearts have been broken seeing the overwhelming need and sadness of so many of these children. Whether they are orphans, slave or sex-trafficked victims, or simply living in an unsafe and impoverished environment. We feel it is our God-given task to fight for these children — to provide meals, clothing, education and better homes.

Stories

Welcome to the Java Relief stories site where we talk about our passion of helping children at risk worldwide. Wake Up Do Good!

Searching for the Perfect Cup of Coffee

Java Relief

 Men from EcoCafé Haiti in Ranquitte

Men from EcoCafé Haiti in Ranquitte

Haiti is the most mountainous country in the Caribbean which makes it an ideal place to grow coffee trees.  In fact, coffee had long been the backbone of Haiti’s economy.  As recently as 1949, Haiti was the world’s third major producer of coffee. 
 
But a brutal dictatorship, a US coffee embargo (which led Haitians to burn coffee trees for charcoal - something most still use for cooking today), natural disasters, and worldwide oversupply caused a steady decline and Haiti now produces less than 1% of the world’s coffee.
 
Ever since the first thought of Java Relief, we’ve wanted to offer coffee from Haiti.  With a connection from EcoCafé Haiti, we’ve found that might be possible.  So on December 31, our family flew to Haiti to find a quality bean, and of course, to visit the children in the orphanages and Cité Soleil.   With our amazing friend Luken, as our driver and translator, we rented a 4-wheel drive and started off on what would be a true adventure!
 
Our five-hour drive to Cap Haitian turned into seven; with normal chaos in the cities and gravel roads winding through the mountains.  I actually pondered whether I should have my seatbelt on or off – would it be better to be thrown from the vehicle or stay with it?  While the trip went well and there was a lot to see, we were thankful to finally reach Cap Haitian that evening. 
 
After a good night’s sleep and a snake falling out of a tree in front of our son, Shale, we had breakfast and were ready to call Georges from EcoCafé Haiti to let him know we were on our way to Ranquitte.  He surprised us, telling us he was in Cap Haitian ready to escort us!  Once we met up with him on his motorcycle and got out of the city it was easy to see why he thought an escort would be good - if we thought the roads to Cap Haitian were bad, we had another thing coming!  Our drive to Ranquitte was all dirt with the exception of a couple small towns along the way.  The roads weren’t marked, were literally washed out in places, took us through riverbeds and seemed like small trails through the lush greenery!  Fun, fun, fun!

Soon we arrived in the quiet, beautiful, mountain village of Ranquitte. More dirt roads, mostly donkeys with a few motorcycles and even fewer vehicles, it was a step back in time.  We stayed at Christian Flights International which is where EcoCafé Haiti operates.  CFI has a dorm for missionaries and a clinic.  Because the dorm was full most of us stayed in the main house, a very small house with a tiny kitchen (smaller than your master bedroom closet, I bet!), two bedrooms a bathroom and a dining/living area where we enjoyed true Haitian cooking.
 
After lunch, we spent some time at the covered, but open-air coffee “plant”, meeting some of the employees of EcoCafé.  Really, some of the kindest men you could meet.  They told us about the jobs they each do and showed us around.  Afterwards, we hiked further up the mountain to the coffee farms.  It was a steep and hot hike!  A couple of times there was talk of turning back but we were glad we didn’t succumb as we soon realized this was so different than we had pictured.  Instead of neat rows of coffee trees in a large orchard, EcoCafé Haiti works with individual farmers.  These farmers have coffee trees that grow on their property, mixed in with all the other trees and vegetation.  The farmers hand pick from each tree on their property and take the seeds down to the coffee plant.

Life takes a lot of work here.  We were complaining as we walked up the trail but soon realized that this was really more like a thoroughfare.  Many people walk this route.  It is the way to get to the farms and homes and some of the people walking the route are carrying goods.  They walk like it’s a normal part of life and it is.
 
Evening came early in Ranquitte with minimal lighting, a full meal of Haitian spaghetti and singing outdoors with the people in the dorms.  Jada and I soon found ourselves ready to get settled in our picture-perfect bedroom, dimly lit with one hurricane lamp, mosquito netting over the bed and old, dark shiplap walls.  As I turned out the lamp, I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face but through the screens, we could hear the rain coming down and hitting the tin roof.  It was a sweet place to rest!
 
Morning arrived with cooks clanging pots in the kitchen and, yes, roosters always crowing!  After breakfast, we walked over to the coffee plant to watch them “husk” the coffee bean and then we all sat down to help sort… hand sort…the beans!  Some pour the beans out onto a table covered with a net and they pick through the beans to discard the broken or cracked ones, while some “sift” the beans on a large straw “plate” (for lack of better words).  With about 10 of us sorting beans it took over two hours to get the 12 pounds we needed to bring home to our roaster!
 
It is truly a grass-roots operation and so clearly benefits the small farmer.  We felt God's blessing to have been able to visit EcoCafé Haiti and Ranquitte.  Along with Luken, we got to see a lot of Haiti and were thankful for a different, way faster drive back to Port Au Prince so thanks to all of you who prayed for our safety!
 
We brought the beans we sorted home with us and our roaster will see what he can come up with.  Our hope is that we’ll be able to offer Haitian beans for a limited time each season.

 Coffee Fruit from the mountain trek to a coffee farm in Ranquitte, Haiti

Coffee Fruit from the mountain trek to a coffee farm in Ranquitte, Haiti