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Benjamin Weiner, J.D., founder of Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, will discuss trade practices on the global coffee market during a presentation at Lycoming College on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m. Along with the presentation, the public is welcome to join the speaker and the College community for a reception that begins at 6:30 p.m. The reception and presentation will be held in the Mary L. Welch Honors Hall and are free and open to the public.
While doing field research on Nicaraguan debt for his undergraduate degree honors thesis, Weiner learned about the challenges faced by coffee farmers in the region. He also fell in love with the country. Several years after completing his law degree and while working for the U.S. Senate, he and his wife bought a coffee farm in Nicaragua.
The Wieners were soon approached by local coffee farmers for help exporting their coffee directly to the U.S. so that they could receive a better price than the local market offered. Ben responded by forming Gold Mountain Coffee Growers, a social enterprise that connects growers directly to specialty roasters throughout the world, including Alabaster Coffee Roaster & Tea Co. in Williamsport, Pa.
Weiner’s enterprise imposes strict requirements to ensure high quality before farmers can work directly with roasters. He places ripeness teams on partner farms during picking season, and uses refractometers and other technology to ensure ripe coffee cherry picking. Treating coffee farms like fine wine vineyards, the farmers have been able to tap markets in the United States and throughout the world including Australia, Singapore and Kuwait.
Along with helping the farmers obtain family-sustaining prices for their product, Gold Mountain also helps the local farmers improve the quality of their coffee and protect the environment. He also invests in development projects related to energy, water and education.
Gold Mountain Coffee Growers earned the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s 2016 excellence award for the purchase of a rainforest to protect endangered species.
Weiner graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a degree in political science. He completed his law degree from Boston College Law School.
At the reception, Alabaster Coffee will offer coffee made with beans from Weiner’s and other farms in Nicaragua. Parkhurst Dining will offer Warrior brand coffees.