Camila spent the first few years of her life in a small home in the town of Linda Vista, Oaxaca, Mexico. Her parents are indigenous people from Southern Mexico, and her father tried for many years to support his family by selling shrimp and fish in the town market. Because he didn't speak Spanish very well, he was not treated fairly at the marketplace. So he went on to search for other streams of income for his family.
He decided to plant a few coffee trees on his property, which turned into a lot of trees, and soon he was growing and selling coffee to middlemen exporters. He had heard the coffee business was more lucrative than fish and shrimp, but he was getting only pesos per pound of coffee, each pound representing hours of hard work for him and his family. They were harvesting as much coffee as they could, but there was still more on the trees that would fall and rot on the ground. He needed to hire help in order to harvest enough coffee to make a profit, but he couldn't afford to pay workers because he was paid so little. He was stuck in a downward cycle of helplessness that many poor coffee farmers experience.
When Camila was six, her mother made the difficult decision to send her and some younger siblings to another town that had a children's home run by Christian missionaries. In the hopes that they would escape the cycle and experience a better life.
In her early twenties, Camila got the opportunity to come to the U.S. where she eventually met Mike. He wanted to be a missionary, but it seemed this wasn't the method that they would end up serving. When he met Camila, who was living with her brother, they introduced him to their mother's coffee--the best coffee he had ever tasted.
Years later, as a family they traveled to her mother's house in Oaxaca for the first time. After seeing the coffee fields, and hearing about the difficulties trying to make a living from it, the coffee bug bit hard. They knew then what they would spend the rest of their lives invested in. Oaxaca is one of the lushest and most fertile coffee-producing regions of Mexico. Rich land, poor people. Mike began researching coffee and business, looking for an opportunity to serve the coffee farmers there.
In 2010, they went back to Oaxaca as a family, and this time Mike took a t-shirt with the Fire Mountain Coffee logo and gave it to Camila's mother. He promised her that somehow we would start the business.
The goal of Fire Mountain Coffee is to cultivate as many direct trade relationships with farmers as possible, buy their coffee at a rate profitable to them, and tell their stories to the people who drink their coffee. Right now our first direct trade coffee is from Honduras, grown by the Lenca people. And we are working towards adding coffee directly from a Linda Vista co-op that includes Camila's family's farm.
We roast the coffee beans in small batches, with care taken to bring out the liveliness and character of the region they were grown in, and get them to you as fresh as possible. When you drink Fire Mountain Coffee, you are directly helping to improve the lives of indigenous and outcast peoples, infusing their work with worth and dignity. This is the mission field--the coffee field--Mike was called to all those years ago. He just never expected it to be this awesome. And delicious.