Yancey Qui??ones is the quintessential example of what makes America such a great country. A native Angelino with Guatemalan and Mexican ancestry, whose family history in the coffee business dates back to 1865, Qui??ones has taken admirable steps to give back to a certain community in Chiapas, Mexico.
Qui??ones, owner of the popular Antigua Coffee House in Los Angeles and master roaster himself since 2000, donates time and talents each month to Cafe Para La Vida Digna, a recognized co-op and project of the Autonomous Municipality in Rebellion, Ricardo Flores Magon in Chiapas, Mexico. This organization, run by volunteers, helps coffee farmers in the region of Palenque, both crop and harvest the coffee. When the "green beans" are ready, they are put in burlap sacks and transported to Los Angeles, where Qui??ones roasts between 200-500 lbs. per month for the organization.
"I got involved in roasting their "raw coffee" about three years ago when it was brought to my attention that they needed someone else to do their roasting," states Qui??ones. "At the time, they were roasting their coffee via other coffee roasters in the area. But what happened was, they were being overcharged by these "other" roasters."
Understanding the struggles of such communities, Qui??ones offered to help.
"I decided to invite them to a roasting session of mine within my facility. I offered to help and cut down their "bottom line". It worked out and at times I just volunteer the roasting charges and donate my time. I only charge them a minimal charge, which is totally affordable."
When the roasting is done, the coffee is packaged and sent out with the volunteers to distribute.
"The effort taken by these volunteers is enormous. They have deep commitments to the disenfranchised Mayan populations in the south of Mexico."
According to Qui??ones, the farm is registered with both U.S. and Mexican customs and the money they earn is sent back to the co-op through the organization which helps the community make repairs, buy material for schools and contributes to a healthier life in their community.
"I do it because I care for these people and because we, as Americans, have so much in this country."
Antigua Coffee House, serving premium organic coffees and teas, will hold its grand reopening launch mid August 2009 at its new location, 3400 N. Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90065.