Chelsea Green Publishing

A Cafecito Story / El cuento del cafecito

Pages:80 pages
Book Art:Black and white reproductions of original woodcut prints
Size: 6 x 9 inch
Publisher:Chelsea Green Publishing
Paperback: 9781931498067
Pub. Date June 01, 2002

A Cafecito Story / El cuento del cafecito

By Julia Alvarez, Bill Eichner and Belkis Ramirez
Translated by Daisy Cocco de Filippis

Availability: In Stock

Paperback

Available Date:
June 01, 2002

$12.95

A Cafecito Story is a story of love, coffee, birds and hope. It is a beautifully written eco-fable by best-selling author Julia Alvarez. Based on her and her husband's experiences trying to reclaim a small coffee farm in her native Dominican Republic, A Cafecito Story shows how the return to the traditional methods of shade-grown coffee can rehabilitate and rejuvenate the landscape and human culture, while at the same time preserving vital winter habitat for threatened songbirds.

Not a political or environmental polemic, A Cafecito Story is instead a poetic, modern fable about human beings at their best. The challenge of producing coffee is a remarkable test of our ability to live more sustainably, caring for the land, growers, and consumers in an enlightened and just way. Written with Julia Alvarez's deft touch, this is a story that stimulates while it comforts, waking the mind and warming the soul like the first cup of morning coffee. Indeed, this story is best read with a strong cup of organic, shade-grown, fresh-brewed coffee.

REVIEWS AND PRAISE

Review: "A Better Cup of Coffee" HippoPress Manchester-
When Joe stops at the roadside barra outside his Dominican vacation resort, he finds the local coffee comes in a single, perfect denomination, "a dollhouse-sized cup filled with delicious, dark brew that leaves stains on the cup." He takes a sip and tastes a coffee that will change his life forever.

Joe is the main character in the adult fable/parable A Cafecito Story by award-winning Vermont novelist Julia Alvarez (How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1990), In the Time of Butterflies (1993), and In the Name of Salom© (2000)). Illustrated with wonderful, imaginative woodcuts by celebrated Dominican artist Belkis Rami­rez, the book comes in three parts: The "Cafecito Story" of the books title; an afterward by Bill Eichner, Alvarez's spouse and co-owner of their organic coffee farm; and a surprisingly rich and sensible resource section.

"The Cafecito Story" unfolds through the eyes of Joe, a Nebraska native with farming in his blood. Joel feels increasingly displaced from the natural world, so he takes a getaway vacation to the Dominican Republic. 

What's so special about the cafecito he finds there? The beans were grown in the traditional way, on a shaded farm in the Dominican's mountainous interior. When Joe visits a coffee farm in the hills, the farmer Miguel tells him that the old ways are fast disappearing as farmers rent their plots to "La compania" to grow coffee quickly in full son, for better short-term yields. The result is the destruction of a sustainable way of life through deforested mountains, depleted soils, and pesticides and chemical fertilizers that wash into the rivers. And for the coffee drinker half a world away, notes Miguel, "The sprayed coffee tastes just as good if you are tasting only with your mouth. But it fills you with the poison swimming around in that dark cup of disappointment."

I'm drinking a cup of certified organic coffee as I write this. How could I drink anything else? This book is meant to be more than light summer reading. It's meant to change your thinking, and it's likely that it will.  Eichner and Alvarez's real-life story picks up where the fable leaves off. Eichner writes in the afterward about Alta Gracia, their organic coffee farm established with them campesino neighbors in the Dominican Republic. Where the fiction is simple and prose sometimes choppy, the afterward is much more lyrical. It clearly conveys the rewards of helping to renew a landscape scorched by agribusiness, the joys of seeing the songbirds return and the literacy rate rise, and the fulfillment in transforming the dream of sustainability into a reality.

Like a young tree, the parable and the real-life story intertwine and take root in the reader. In part three, an extensive and imaginative list of resources will help coffee drinkers participate in fair trade, a set of marketplace practices that create a better future for half a million family coffee farmers around the world.

In an age when we often want to make a difference but are uncertain of where to begin, drinking a better cup of coffee doesn't seem like much to ask. After all, writers Eichner, "Anyone can begin by planting a tree, or a hundred trees…. The future does depend on each cup, on each small choice we make."
Eichner and Alvarez manage to tell a complex story with global consequences without being preachy of heavy-handed. They intend to inspire, and they do.

Karen Marzloff

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Julia Alvarez

Julia Alvarez has bridged the Americas many times. Born in New York and raised in the Dominican Republic, she is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist, author of world-renowned books in each of the genres, including How the Garc­a Girls Lost Their Accents, In the Time of the Butterflies, and Something to Declare. She is the recipient of a 2013 National Medal of Arts. She lives on a farmstead outside Middlebury, Vermont, with her husband Bill Eichner. Visit Julia's Web site www.alvarezjulia.com to find out more about her writing.

Julia and Bill own an organic coffee farm called Alta Gracia in her native country of the Dominican Republic. Their specialty coffee is grown high in the mountains on what was once depleted pastureland. Not only do they grow coffee at Alta Gracia, but they also work to bring social, environmental, spiritual, and political change for the families who work on their farm. They use the traditional methods of shad-grown coffee farming in order to protect the environment, they pay their farmers a fair and living wage, and they have a school on their farm where children and adults learn to read and write. For more information about Alta Gracia, visit www.cafealtagracia.com.

Bill Eichner

Belkis Ramirez

Belkis Ram­rez, who created the woodcuts for A Cafecito Story, is one of the most celebrated artrists in the Dominican Republic.

EXCERPT

A Better Coffee: Developing Economic Fairness
Julia Alvarez's moving Cafecito Story is happily not just a story; it is now the living reality of half a million family coffee farmers around the world. These farmers and their partners in the marketplace--people that include Carmen, Miguel, Joe, and you, yourself--have turned decades of hard work and dreams into a powerful international movement called fair trade. Fair trade is about transforming the growing and drinking of coffee.

Fair trade is efficient and profitable trade organized with a built-in commitment to equity, dignity, respect, and mutual aid. Fair trade guarantees farmers like Carmen and Miguel

  • direct sales for their cooperatives,
  • a fair price, regardless of international market prices,
  • improved access to credit,
  • a long-term marketing relationship, and
  • a commitment from buyers to support environmental sustainability.

We all want to end the human misery we hear about daily, but many of us find it hard to figure out what we can do personally. Fair trade helps us make a difference. It is a concrete step toward positive change. Buying fair-trade coffee gives you a delicious cafecito and the deeper satisfaction of knowing that you have helped farmers invest in health care, education, environmental stewardship, and economic independence.

And fair trade ensures that farmers earn a living wage so they can have the stability to provide a better future for themselves and their children. Helping farmers cultivate the courage to pursue their dreams helps us nurture the courage to pursue our own. Now isn't that a fair trade?

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

The Best of Making Things

The Best of Making Things

By Ann Sayre Wiseman

Why go to the mall when you can make things at home using materials recycled from around the house?

This classic educational and creative text features 125 projects, carefully selected by the author to "develop natural curiosity and self-esteem," and to demonstrate "simple and important concepts that have shaped the cultures of the world."

So when a child asks, "What can I do?" you can reply, "Make things! Paper from laundry lint! A bird feeder from clothes hangers! Chocolate pudding finger paintings! Beautiful fish & potato prints! A cardboard box loom that teaches weaving and math! A simple pattern to sew shirts, pants, or dresses!"

The author's detailed and delightful drawings fill every page "so that children just starting out and grownups who have missed out can quickly grasp the ideas."

Available in: Paperback

Read More

The Best of Making Things

Ann Sayre Wiseman

Paperback $10.00

Tamed and Untamed

Tamed and Untamed

By Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

Extraordinary new insights into the minds and lives of our fellow creatures from two of the world’s top animal authors, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas and Sy Montgomery.

"In their writing and in their lives and in their remarkable friendship, Liz and Sy break down false barriers and carry us closer to our fellow creatures.”—from the foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of Elephant Company

Tamed and Untamed―a collection of essays penned by two of the world's most celebrated animal writers, Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas―explores the minds, lives, and mysteries of animals as diverse as snails, house cats, hawks, sharks, dogs, lions, and even octopuses.

Drawing on stories of animals both wild and domestic, the two authors, also best friends, created this book to put humans back into the animal world. The more we learn about what other animals think and do, they explain, the more we understand ourselves as animals, too. Writes Montgomery, “The list of attributes once thought to be unique to our species―from using tools to waging war―is not only rapidly shrinking, but starting to sound less and less impressive when we compare them with other animals’ powers.”

With humor, empathy, and introspection, Montgomery and Thomas look into the lives of all kinds of creatures―from man’s best friend to the great white shark―and examine the ways we connect with our fellow species. Both authors have devoted their lives to sharing the animal kingdom’s magic with others, and their combined wisdom is an indispensable contribution to the field of animal literature.

The book contains a foreword by Vicki Constantine Croke, author of the bestseller Elephant Company.

Prior praise for Sy Montgomery, author of Soul of an Octopus and Good, Good Pig and finalist for the 2015 National Book Award:

“Equal parts poet and scientist.”—The New York Times

“Part Indiana Jones and part Emily Dickinson.”—The Boston Globe

“Sy Montgomery has insight into the Others that every nature writer on this continent envies." —Farley Mowat, author of Never Cry Wolf

Prior praise for Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, author of The Hidden Life of Dogs and Tribe of Tiger:

"We are lucky to have shared some time on Earth with Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. Like a shaman of words, she connects us as if by magic with other worlds hidden on our own planet."—Carl Safina, author of Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel

"Thomas has a magical feel for the patterns of the natural world . . . ."—Publishers Weekly

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Tamed and Untamed

Sy Montgomery, Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Vicki Constantine Croke

Paperback $17.95

A Sanctuary of Trees

A Sanctuary of Trees

By Gene Logsdon

As author Gene Logsdon puts it, "We are all tree huggers." But not just for sentimental or even environmental reasons. Humans have always depended on trees for our food, shelter, livelihood, and safety. In many ways, despite the Grimm's fairy-tale version of the dark, menacing forest, most people still hold a deep cultural love of woodland settings, and feel right at home in the woods.

In this latest book, A Sanctuary of Trees, Logsdon offers a loving tribute to the woods, tracing the roots of his own home groves in Ohio back to the Native Americans and revealing his own history and experiences living in many locations, each of which was different, yet inextricably linked with trees and the natural world. Whether as an adolescent studying at a seminary or as a journalist living just outside Philadelphia's city limits, Gene has always lived and worked close to the woods, and his curiosity and keen sense of observation have taught him valuable lessons about a wide variety of trees: their distinct characteristics and the multiple benefits and uses they have.

In addition to imparting many fascinating practical details of woods wisdom, A Sanctuary of Trees is infused with a philosophy and descriptive lyricism that is born from the author's passionate and lifelong relationship with nature: There is a point at which the tree shudders before it begins its descent. Then slowly it tips, picks up speed, often with a kind of wailing death cry from rending wood fibers, and hits the ground with a whump that literally shakes the earth underfoot. The air, in the aftermath, seems to shimmy and shiver, as if saturated with static electricity. Then follows an eerie silence, the absolute end to a very long life.

Fitting squarely into the long and proud tradition of American nature writing, A Sanctuary of Trees also reflects Gene Logsdon's unique personality and perspective, which have marked him over the course of his two dozen previous books as the authentic voice of rural life and traditions.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

A Sanctuary of Trees

Gene Logsdon

Paperback $19.95

Dig Your Hands in the Dirt

Dig Your Hands in the Dirt

By Kiko Denzer

  • Turn the earth under your feet into natural, cheap, beautiful art: African-inspired murals, fanciful playground sculptures, labyrinths, sundials, sculpted benches, bird houses, & more
  • Complete illustrated how-to guide to mud, art, & community
  • Inspiring stories & color photos from earth-artists here & abroad

For teachers, parents, activists, builders, artists, & other kids. Here is inspiration and instruction for anyone interested in making beautiful art out of earth. The author of Build Your Own Earth Oven teaches you to find, mix, and sculpt the right mud; develop group goals and vision, and translate simple, natural (and easy to draw) patterns into sophisticated and complex designs. The resulting murals will transform anonymous "spaces" into real places. Or make "garden art" you can sit on (or in). Get inspirated by earth artists across the country and over the sea. Extensive resources for further study. Join them all in making art to help "join us, harmoniously, to a whole." Brief, elegant, wonderfully and generously illustrated with drawings and 32 pages of color photos.

Available in: Paperback

Read More

Dig Your Hands in the Dirt

Kiko Denzer

Paperback $15.00