"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
"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.
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 lives on a farmstead outside Middlebury, Vermont, with her husband Bill Eichner. Visit Julia's Web site 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 cafealtagracia.com.
Belkis Ramrez, who created the woodcuts for A Cafecito Story, is one of the most celebrated artrists in the Dominican Republic. Visit Belkis' web site.
Daisy Cocco de Filippis, who translated A Cafecito Story into Spanish, is originally from the Dominican Republic. Since 1978 has taught Hispanic literature and culture at York College of The City University of New York, where she directs the Department on Foreign Languages, ESL and Humanitites.
Julia Alvarez was born in New York City during her Dominican parents' "first and failed" stay in the United States. While she was still an infant, the family returned to the Dominican Republic -- where her father, a vehement opponent of the Trujillo dictatorship, resumed his activities with the resistance. In 1960, in fear for their safety, the Alvarezes fled the country, settling once more in New York.
Alvarez has often said that the immigrant experience was the crucible that turned her into a writer. Her struggle with the nuances of the English language made her deeply conscious of the power of words, and exposure to books and reading sharpened both her imagination and her storytelling skills. She graduated summa cum laude from Middlebury College in 1971, received her M.F.A. from Syracuse University, and spent the next two decades in the education field, traveling around the country with the poetry-in-the-schools program and teaching English and Creative Writing to elementary, high school, and college students.
Alvarez's verse began to appear in literary magazines and anthologies, and in 1984, she published her first poetry collection, Homecoming. She had less success marketing her novel -- a semiautobiographical story that traced the painful assimilation of a Dominican family over a period of more than 30 eventful years. A series of 15 interconnected stories that unfold in reverse chronological order, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents addresses, head-on, the obstacles and challenges immigrants face in adapting to life in a new country.
It took some time for "ethnic" literature to gain enough of a foothold in the literary establishment for Alvarez's agent, a tireless champion of minority authors, to find a publisher. But when the novel was released in 1991, it received strongly positive reviews. And so, at the tender age of 41, Alvarez became a star. Three years later, she proved herself more than a "one-hit wonder," when her second novel, In the Time of Butterflies was nominated for the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award. Since then, she has made her name as a writer of remarkable versatility, juggling novels, poetry, children's books, and nonfiction with equal grace and aplomb. She lives in Vermont, where she serves as a writer in residence at her alma mater, Middlebury College. In addition, she and her husband run a coffee farm in the Dominican Republic that hosts a school to teach the local farmers and their families how to read and write.
Good To Know
From 1975 until 1978, Alvarez served as Poet-in-the-Schools in Kentucky, Delaware, and North Carolina.
She has held positions as a professor of creative writing and English at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts (1979-81), the University of Vermont (1981-83), and the University of Illinois (1985-88).
In 1984, Alvarez was the Jenny McKean Moore Visiting Writer at George Washington University. Currently, she is a professor of English at Middlebury College.
She and her husband run a coffee farm, Alta Gracia, in the Dominican Republic.
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?