I'm a coffee addict. I have no qualms about saying it. Two of the most penitent Lenten experiences I've had have involved fasting from my favorite substance. I survived, but just barely.

And when it comes to coffee, I'm a bit picky. I take mine black and strong. I prefer a bold, dark roast. My days start with the gospel and at least three cups. And when I'm in deadline mode as I am this month, you don't even want to know how much I drink!

So when Catholic Relief Services invited me to participate on this year's #CRSMedia trip to Colombia, I jumped at the opportunity to learn how the support we give through CRS's amazing Rice Bowl program helps families in Colombia. I have to admit that in the past, I haven't been as mindful as I should be about selecting coffee which is delicious but also sustainably produced and most importantly which enhances the lives of the families who grow and produce it.

I mentioned yesterday that I received a small care package from CRS. Included in the box was a fabulous CRS Rice Bowl mug:


and some fantastic Fair Trade coffee from Colombia:


Our travels for this trip will take us to see the CRS-supported Borderlands Coffee projects in Colombia. Per the CRS Coffeelands website (where you can also order Colombian coffee):

The Colombia lots listed here come from participants in our Borderlands Coffee Project in Nariño, and are brought to you by roasters who are participating in our Advisory Councilthere.  The baseline survey for our Borderlands project showed that in 2012, only 2 percent of growers in Nariño were selling their coffee collectively and only 4 percent had ever earned quality premiums.  We have worked with our industry partners in Nariño to change that by creating financial incentives for farmer organization and quality-based differentiation.  The results have been impressive—this is the third straight year participants have sold coffee directly to U.S. specialty buyers for price premiums—and delicious.

In this short video, we learn more about coffee production in the region we'll be visiting:

Doesn't it look beautiful? In the past, I've learned that traveling with CRS gives me a much deeper connection to the funds our family donates, especially during the Lenten Rice Bowl season. Even in advance of this adventure, I know that visiting with, working alongside and getting to know the families of the Nariño region will be a blessing. I can't wait to bring all of you along on this trip!

Please join me in praying through the intercession of Colombia’s patrons Our Lady of Chiquinquirá, St. Louis Bertrand, and St. Peter Claver for the success and safety of our journey.

For more information:

Copyright 2016 Lisa M. Hendey