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Convivio Café
Kristin Lacy and Vivi Lemus of Convivio Café. Photo courtesy of Convivio Café
Eat and Drink

Meet the Women Bringing ‘Beyond Fair Trade’ Coffee to Denver

Convivio Café’s farmer-roasted coffee benefits coffee-growing communities in a big way. It also just tastes better.

Kristin Lacy and Vivi Lemus are on a mission to introduce Guatemalan coffee culture—and the farmers behind it—to the Denver community. Their Convivio Café project pairs Colorado consumers directly with coffee growing communities in Guatemala, delivering fresh, delicious, and ethical coffee from plant to cup.

After three years living in Guatemala while working on a sustainable agriculture project, Lacy returned to Denver and found herself missing the warm hospitality and long afternoon conversations over a cafecito, an ubiquitous cultural token shared during a “convivio.” Lemus, a Guatemalteca living in Denver, shares the sentiment. “A convivio is a gathering where everyone is welcomed,” Lemus says. “Convivio Café was born of a yearning for that community connection.”

Community is not the only tenet at the heart of Convivio Café—the Guatemalan-inspired coffee company Lacy and Lemus founded in 2020—the women are also committed to promoting a connection to the land and the respect for people working the fields. “For us it’s very important to support a fair coffee commerce business model,” Lacy says. “Promoting social equity and environmentally sound practices; maintaining a direct link by sourcing exclusively farmer-roasted coffee.” 

Lemus explains that coffee-producing countries around the world have historically cultivated, harvested, processed, and then shipped green coffee beans to other countries, where the coffee is roasted, packaged, and sold. This model keeps the largest profit in the secondary countries, separating the land, ecosystem services, and labor from the finished product.

Convivio Café’s model is different. Lacy and Lemus source their coffee from caficultores (coffee growers) who have a say in every step of the process. “Our goal is to offer the Denver community a coffee that goes beyond fair trade,” Lacy says. “[We connect] them directly with the hands cultivating and roasting the final product, while keeping up to four times the profits in the farms and the people producing the coffee.” This model also supports training and capital investment in the local communities, providing excellent working conditions for farmers, paying living wages to workers, and elevating the quality of the coffee.

Convivio Café
Convivio Café coffee. Photo courtesy of Convivio Café

Convivio Café is also elevating the work of women in the coffee business, who represent 70 percent of the labor force in coffee production—the majority of global coffee farmers. With that in mind, Lacy and Lemus partnered with Gento Coffee, a third-generation coffee-growing family in Guatemala (managed by women) that focuses on equity and transparency. Lacy and Lemus also partner with Vega Coffee, a cooperative working with female farmers and entrepreneurs in Nicaragua to cut out the middleman and connect farmers directly with consumers. 

The end result reflects the attention to detail at every stage of the process, delivering an unmasked finesse that makes you stop to appreciate each sip. “Artisanal coffee like ours focuses on hand-harvesting only mature berries to deliver the specific flavor profile of each coffee variety and the true taste of the terroir,” Lemus says. “And roasting is done to enhance those flavors and aromas rather than to hide bitterness or other undesirable tastes.” 

Even though Convivio Café’s brick-and-mortar space in southwest Denver is still in the works, Lacy and Lemus stay true to their mission of encouraging connection around coffee through pop-ups at community-driven places where they share their story alongside their coffee, champurradas, warmth, and laughter. 

What to Try:

Don Roberto

One of Convivio Café’s most unique coffees (and named after Gento’s founder), Don Roberto comes from an estate-grown microplot in Fraijanes. It’s made from the Caturra and Pacas varieties of Arabica, and has velvety caramel overtones with hints of florals and orange.   

Café de la Casa

An everyday favorite, Café de la Casa is a blend of Caturra and Bourbon Arabica varieties from Huehuetenango. This region’s variety of ecosystems, biodiversity, and microclimates allows coffee cultivation up to 6,233 feet above sea level. This diversity fosters multiple Arabica coffee varieties, with aromas and flavors ranging from caramel, molasses, and toffee to fruitier or floral undertones.

Where to Get It:

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