I suppose it might be helpful for you, our dear readers, to have a little introduction to me. My name is Aaron Ellringer and I have been selling coffee for Farmer to Farmer for over 8 years, primarily through a food co-op, Just Local Food, that started out of my garage with friends. This past year I left my grocery job and signed a contract with Farmer to Farmer to help sell more great coffee and fortify connections between folks in Central America and my friends and neighbors in Western Wisconsin and beyond. I live in Eau Claire Wisconsin with my wife and three kids. I like to ride bikes, take pictures, explore our local habitat with my kids and work with others on interesting projects.
When I first started working for Farmer to Farmer in May of 2012 I thought I knew a lot about coffee. I've been drinking it for years, and was personally involved in securing Farmer to Farmer coffee for Just Local Food in the early days of our startup. It wasn't until I started representing the coffee in several other retail stores that I learned the extent of my ignorance. While I have heard many stories from Farmer to Farmer members who have made trips to the coffee farms, I still lack a crucial personal connection to the growers that can translate into increased sales and education. In fact, I was only a few months into the job when I realized that I was in over my head, and truly needed to visit the farmers in Guatemala and Honduras in order to really perform my job well.
I have a varied background in farming, and over the past 15 years have had the great privilege of working on, visiting and promoting a great variety of farms. I have developed a keen eye for what questions and concerns consumers have, and bring this knowledge with me to Central America where I hope to develop a comprehensive understanding of coffee production and distribution as it pertains specifically to our organization.
More than coffee, though, this organization is really about relationships and cultural understanding. I look forward to sharing with the farmers where their coffee ends up - who is brewing up their beans, and why? And what can I do to further support their work and struggle to achieve decent living conditions and fair compensation?
As my plane descends into San Pedro Sula, the butterflies in my belly are busy. I'm nervous. I don't speak spanish. I'll be away from my family for a long time. I barely know those that I'm traveling with. Yes, I'm way out of my comfort zone and I'm ready for adventure, heartache, peace and understanding.