Nossa Familia Coffee is trying to bring one of their producers, Timoteo Minas, to the United States after his visa was denied without cause.
BY ASHLEY RODRIGUEZ
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
The state of immigration in the United States is complicated. While baristas and coffee pros are free to travel to coffee-producing countries without fear of being denied access to most locales, the reverse is not always true—farmers and coffee professionals from producing countries face increasing difficulties entering the United States to see how the products they grow are ultimately bought and consumed.
Nossa Familia Coffee, a roaster based in Portland, Ore., launched a campaign called “Let Timo In” to help bring one of their growers, Timoteo Minas, into the United States. Timoteo—or Timo as he’s known to friends—is a Guatemalan farmer who provides coffee to the roasting company, and his visa to the United States has been denied with no clear explanation as to why. “Nossa Familia was planning to sponsor Timoteo’s first visit to the United States, so he can see where the coffee he grows is roasted and served in Portland,” a press release from Nossa Familia states. Timo was also planning on attending the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in April to learn from other coffee professionals and experience the specialty market in the U.S.
“We had high hopes of bringing Timo to Portland, and it’s disappointing that we have to go through this for someone who is such an incredible leader and role model,” shares Augusto Cameiro, founder and Chief Friendship Officer of Nossa Familia. “He clearly has very strong ties to his home country, proving that he will return, not to mention the support of several reputable businesses.” Because his visa was denied, Timo won’t be able to visit the stores that serve his coffee and bring full circle the experience of growing, harvesting, roasting, and serving his coffee. “This decision to deny his visa application blocks a meaningful business exchange and an invaluable opportunity for a passionate coffee farmer to see the full cycle of where his coffee is roasted and served,” Augusto said.
The Nossa Familia team has started a change.org petition, and asks coffee professionals and drinkers alike to sign and garner support for Timo’s visit. The company is currently in touch with Senator Jeff Merkley’s constituent services offices, and hopes to have a letter signed by the senator in support of Timo’s visit. In the meantime, you can sign the petition and leave messages about why you think a visit like this is important. “This man is part of our global community as well as a very real contributor to our local economy. Denying people like him entry to our country without cause is noxious xenophobia and that is an embarrassment to our nation. We should be better than that,” shared A’Qulia Ettien of Portland, Ore., on the website.
“Visits to the U.S. like this one proposed for Timo strengthen international trade and cultural exchange, leading to mutual understanding, cooperation, and shared personal enrichment,” notes Sarah Evanson-Isaac of Seattle. “Also, coffee is the quintessential American beverage! We should let someone whose work is so integral to the production of coffee come to the U.S. to see how the fruits of his labors get processed, consumed, and enjoyed. This experience could help improve his product.” Many of the petition signers note the importance of seeing how Timo’s coffee is made and served is vital to his business, and how the very nature of coffee involves importing goods from other countries, so trips like these strengthen the ties between our international partners.
Regardless of the reasons, if you feel that Timo’s visa should go through, please sign the petition here. The campaign is already close to its 500-signature goal, but the more signatures and notes they receive, the stronger the message is. For our industry to succeed, we must support our international ties and do what we can to protect them from the whims of political changes.