SNAKE BOMB® PROJECT
In 2005 the 20-year trade restrictions placed against Laos, Vietnam’s neighbor, was lifted due to changing political systems. It is here in Laos that farmers produce a distinctive Canephora coffee that rivals Arabica varieties. These beans were exported exclusively to Europe which consider this species one of the best coffees in the world. This is due in part to the French who cultivated the first coffee crops in Laos during their occupation (1700-1950s).
Intense bombing spanning a decade forced the migration of farmers high up the mountains to distance themselves from the dangers below. The coffee adapted unexpectedly well to the high altitude, rich volcanic soil and ample rainfall. This created a rare & distinctive flavor found only in this particular region, being the only Canephora in the world grown from 1300 meters (4,265 feet) to 1920.24 meters (6,300 feet). Americans played a devastating role in this forced migration by dropping 266 million sub-munitions (Equivalent to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, around the clock for nine years).
Currently, there are nearly 70 million unexploded bombs that are still killing and maiming innocent Lao people, including children, and we felt compelled to take action and do our small part to help heal this region. Today, our Snake Bomb® coffee blend has developed a devoted following that has allowed us to make a small but significant difference and made us the longest consistent importer of high grade Lao Canephora in the United States. We are using the profits from the sale of our Snake Bomb® coffee blend to:
1) bring awareness to the devastating aftermath of war that the Lao people face every day;
2) rally support from corporations and governments to give more aid money;
3) support the farmers in the region with long term trade that is equal to—or above—today’s fair trade pricing.
Meet Jordan Inthirajvongsy, she is uniquely both a refugee of Laos and a patriotic US citizen who served in the United States Army for four years. What a complex feeling to know the country you love and served bombed your homeland and family. She is standing next to one of the 70,000,000 bombs that did not explode when dropped; most of these bombs still pose a real threat to Lao people.
266 million sub-munitions (bombs) were dropped on Laos – equivalent to a planeload of bombs every eight minutes, around the clock, for 9 years. Not sure if we can really wrap our minds around these numbers and the damage they caused, but just think about it for eight minutes.
Before water lines, electricity, housing, hospitals, schools or any industry can be built, the unexploded bombs must be removed from contaminated villages. It’s a labor intensive and extremely expensive endeavor. Experts estimate it will take 300 years and billions of dollars to completely remove the unexploded bombs from Laos.
More bombs were dropped on Laos than Germany and Japan combined, at an estimated cost of $17 million a day (in today’s dollars) for 10 years or approximately $62,050,000,000.00.
Snakebites are one of the most neglected public health issues in poor rural communities in South East Asia. Most villages lack accessible and adequate medical facilities, and as a result, it is estimated that over 50,000 people, many being farmers, needlessly die each year from snakebites.
THE START & 25- YEAR PLAN
Breyting Community Roaster™ developed and finalized our donation programs in 2012. This involved collaborating with non-profit organizations as well as government initiatives that contributes in the areas of health (Snake Bites), UXO (unexploded ordinance) survivors’ assistance, advocacy, and community development; mostly working with small non-profits and NGOs within Laos that are doing amazing work.
This progress chart shows our goals and progress.
- Ahead of Plan
- On Plan
- Behind Plan
- We Need Help!
|Increase our intake of certified organic coffees from Southeast Asia.||This will be achieved through partnering with a few certification bodies but mostly the Department of Agriculture in Laos which has made a strong push to organize its own version of ACT (Agriculture Certification Thailand). This project has become quite successful and led to the formation of the LCB (Lao Certification Body). However it will be decades before the villages and farmers we support become certified. In the meantime Breyting Community Roaster™ is doing what we can to obtain and increase our certified coffees while not marginalizing the small family run farmers.|
|The Snake Bomb® Exhibit and coffee tasting.||The war is over. However, the soldiers and the soldier’s families on both sides of the conflicts, the region itself and the people living in South East Asia are still healing. The Snake Bomb® Exhibit and coffee tasting celebrates the Lao’s heritage but also seeks to help the younger generations learn from the past as “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The exhibit uses the transformative power of art and photography to educate and increase awareness of the struggles Lao people face. The event depicts Lao’s rich culture, beautiful scenery, its people, its history, the South East Asian Conflict, bombs, snakes, and coffee.|
|Going Beyond Fair trade & Organic.||Breyting Community Roaster™ is developing our own web based transparent certification system that allows the customers to trace their coffee to the farmers who grew it and view documents that provide proof of payments to show that the farmers are receiving fair compensation, that women farmers are being equally supported (as women are responsible for 70% of the labor) and view 3rd party organic reports.|
|Add more awareness and revenue.||We have developed a new marketing venue for Snake Bomb®; a canned coffee. This new product will be distributed through licensing partners world wide. The licensing proceeds will go to support the project.|
|Empowering women through entrepreneurship||This will be achieved by developing a Snake Bomb® coffee cart franchise that will be sold for a $1.00 franchise fee plus the net cost of the coffee cart.|
|Our end goal.||The end goal is to build Snake Bomb® into a highly respectful socially conscious brand known for effectively using its profits to benefit the Lao people. After the brand is built and debt free, it will be spun off into a non-profit origination that will sustainably support the missions it was created for.|