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Byron Shire
June 21, 2021

Ballina’s Old Quarter Coffee paves road to success

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Old Quarter Coffee’s Yosir Le Cerf and Amelia Hicks with Mrs Eka and Mr Ali from Ulu Nuwih village in Sumatra. Photo supplied.

A Chuffed fundraiser to help build a road for farmers in Sumatra whose premium coffee supplies the Northern Rivers is well on its way to reaching its target, but still needs more support.

Operating out of the Ballina Industrial Estate, Old Quarter Coffee Merchants is run by former caped crusader and Girl Against Gas Amelia Hicks, and her partner Yosir Le Cerf. They source all their coffees directly from ethnic minority farmers, ensuring the farmers are paid the true worth of their coffee.

Dangerous tracks to market in Sumatra. Photo supplied.

Unfortunately, poor roads infrastructure means the farmers’ livelihoods are at risk, especially during harvest season, when it rains heavily and the steep dirt tracks to town and the coffee processing facility become extremely dangerous.

When the roads are too risky to travel on, coffee is lost (as it needs to be processed quickly), and farmers lose valuable income.

What to do?

As the Chuffed page puts it, ‘In a beautiful show of humanity and community, the co-op’s farmer-members have voted to spend their dividends to help the farmers in need.

‘The project will pave 500 metres of dirt road for eight different villages and change the daily lives of more than 1000 households!

‘The truly exciting thing is that it won’t just be the farmers who will benefit. Everyone across the eight villages will now have access to safe travel all year round to shop, go to school and do business. That’s what we call direct impact.’

With the female-led coffee co-op contributing more than 40% of the total cost of this project, the Chuffed fundraiser is attempting to raise a further $5,000. Over $3,000 has been raised so far.

Inspired to help

Old Quarter Coffee’s Amelia Hicks told The Echo, ‘We work with a lot of different ethnic minority farmers across Southeast Asia. They often experience additional adversity within their own country. Often English is their third language.

Old Quarter Coffee’s Yosir Le Cerf and Amelia Hicks with Mrs Eka and Mr Ali from Ulu Nuwih village in Sumatra. Photo supplied.

‘We’re just so inspired by cultural diversity and the determination and ingenuity of the farmers we work with,’ she said.

‘It motivates us to showcase their product in the best light we can and try to tell their story here in Australia.’

Old Quarter Coffee Merchants takes a strongly ethical position in everything they do, both in Australia and overseas, offering a 100% sustainable, traceable, ethical product.

As Ms Hicks explains, ‘Since the first day we opened our doors we’ve been really humbled by how many people believed in what we’re trying to do with our business. It’s just about giving back to the people who grow our daily luxury. It’s simple but it’s powerful.

‘The world can feel divided sometimes but honestly if you look in the right place, it’s full of kindness and good deeds,’ she said.

Road building in Sumatra. Photo supplied.

‘When we wrote to the co-op leader and told her how much our customers were donating to support the farmers and villagers they were really excited to know people here care about them.’

Moved by kindness

Co-op leader Rahmah said this week, ‘I am deeply moved by your kindness Amelia, Yosir.

‘We will use your donation carefully and make sure that it will bring benefits for farmers and the community surrounding the project.’

Amelia Hicks told The Echo, ‘Every time we’ve done a fundraiser to support the farmers who grow our coffee, our local community has rallied behind us. But we also get support from all over the country.

‘We literally couldn’t have this business or run this little campaign without everyone’s support. It’s just another example of how much more we can achieve collectively than apart,’ she said.

Find out more about the Sumatra road project and the special perks for Chuffed supporters here.

You can also learn more about the fundraiser in the video below:

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