The impoverished Aleta Wondo community of Ethiopia grows some of the world’s finest coffee beans.
Brew a cup as I did from some sample beans, then revel in the smooth, rich notes of vanilla and bergamot without any of the ubiquitous “burnt” flavor of so many dark roasts these days.
Yet the farmers who grow these precious beans often don’t make enough money to feed or care for their children properly.
Enter Common River, a Mill Valley non-profit, which is working to change that.
Started by Donna Sillan, an international public health consultant, and Tsegaye Bekele, an Aleta Wondo native who now lives in Marin after starting a plumbing business in the Bay Area, the organization was able to build a new school in Aleta Wondo that educates 130 children in the community. It also started a summer camp program there that is staffed by Mill Valley volunteers.
Moreover, Sillan and Bekele began exporting the Aleto Wondo coffee to the United States. All the profits from the sale of the coffee goes back to the village of farmers to help fund the school and other needed projects.
You can do your own part to help by trying the coffee, yourself. It’s available at Whole Foods in Mill Valley and San Rafael. It’s also for sale directly on the AletaWondo site. Additionally, Equator Coffees & Teas, the socially conscious coffee company that just opened its first retail cafe at the San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2, buys the Aleta Wondo beans and sells it under its own label.
Contest: One lucky Food Gal reader will get a chance to enjoy a 12-ounce bag of the Aleta Wondo coffee beans. Entries, restricted to those who live in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST April 16. Winner will be announced April 18.
How to win?
Tell me about a good deed or charitable act that you’ve done that gave you great satisfaction. Best answer wins the coffee.
Here’s my own answer:
“When my good friend Charlen still worked at the San Jose Mercury News as community outreach manager, she often organized fund-raising drives at work for various causes. As a reporter there, I always looked forward to the back-to-school backpack drive, where my newsroom co-workers and I would put together brand new backpacks for disadvantaged young girls and boys who were just starting the new school year. My husband and I would spend an afternoon at Target, buying a backpack and all the accessories to go with it. We’d fill our cart with crayons, notepads, rulers, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, binders, glitter pens, fun key chains, a colorful refillable water bottle, and anything else that caught our eyes. At home, I’d arrange everything just so inside the backpack until it was stuffed to the gills, before turning it over to Charlen for delivery. It always made my heart smile to imagine the little girl or boy gasping with joy when unzipping the backpack, and to think that one little gesture might just help a child excel even more in school.”
Winner of Last Week’s Contest: In the last Food Gal contest, I asked you to tell me about one of your favorite baked goods from childhood and why you still dream about it. The winner will receive a sampler of breads, cookies, corn cakes and scones from Pastry Smart.
Marcella, who wrote, “When I was in high school I was an assistant for the typing teacher. He was a pretty laid back guy, but he had one strict rule. He never wanted to see what color gum students were chewing. Gum could be chewed, but there was punishment in store for those who slipped and blew bubbles or snapped their gum in their front teeth. A caught student had to bring a batch of chocolate chip cookies to share for the class. The student was to bake the cookies themselves –- no mixes or slice and bake allowed. If the student got proficient in chocolate chip cookie making they had to move on to molasses cookies. Before then, I had never even heard of a molasses cookie. I soon fell in love with them and secretly hoped the good cookie bakers would slip up and have to bring a batch to class. Those spicy, chewy cookies are still a favorite of mine and my family and we bake them often –- even if we haven’t been chewing gum.”