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Ethiopia: The birthplace of all coffee

Ethiopia holds a very special place in our heart. It is the birthplace of all coffee and you can impress your friends by telling them all coffee comes from the original strain in Ethiopia. In fact if it was not for espionage and smuggling Ethiopia might still be the only place you could get coffee. Ethiopian beans have a wide variety due to the range of micro-climates that exist. You can enjoy a bright and citrusy Sidamo, a floral Yirgacheffe, rich and full-bodied Harrar, sweet and spicy Limu, and an almost tropical and smooth Jimma. The coffee ceremony is woven into the very fabric of the culture, being offered coffee is not an instant affair. Ethiopia’s connection to coffee is summed up with their popular proverbs, “buna dabo naw” or “coffee is our bread.”

Not only is Ethiopia the birthplace of coffee but it’s also the birthplace of our inspiration for Laughing Man Coffee. In 2009 Hugh and Deb traveled to Kochere Ethiopia as global ambassadors for World Vision Australia. It was there Hugh met a coffee farmer named Dukale. He was growing delicious coffee and with the use of some simple technology had zero carbon footprint. Hugh worked with Dukale on the farm, planted some coffee trees named after his children (Ava and Oscar) and spent time with his family and community. He was so moved by Dukale’s spirit, leadership and laughter and realized that there are coffee farmers communities like Dukale around the world whose story needs to be told and more importantly whose coffee needs to be tasted. Hugh promised Dukale he would help and Laughing Man was born.

Our early work was limited as we were just starting out. We focused on mainly buying coffee from Dukale and his co-op. Over the years we were able to help with donations that went to various needs of the community which ranged from healthcare to education to coffee processing equipment. We did make a gift to Dukale directly of two cows, one for milk and one for work. This we decide on by Dukale and World Vision as culturally appropriate.

Over the course of 5 years we were able to record the birth and growth of Laughing Man Coffee, from Hugh’s promise to Dukale to the opening of Laughing Man Coffee. This was made into a feature length documentary called Dukale’s Dream.

Journey To Colombia

When you think of coffee you can’t help but think of Colombia, and within Colombia no region is more productive than Huila. Huila coffees make frequent appearances at The Cup of Excellence, they are loved by baristas, cafe owners and traders for their bright, sweet, fruity and caramel profile. You will not find sweeter, more welcoming people than these coffee farmers.

Situated between the central and eastern ranges of the Andes, this mountainous area is 12,000-18,000 meters above sea level. You will often see farmers scaling the mountainside to pick the coffee cherries. They do it with dedication and love and inspire us to do our best for them.

The Laughing Man Foundation has an ongoing partnership with COOCENTRAL and Fair Trade USA to create programs to support coffee farming communities in this region.

COOCENTRAL has 3,116 farmer members, 36% are women, and they cover a total production area of 11,036 hectares. COOCENTRAL is a large co-op providing coffee farmers loans and financing, technical support. access to coffee markets, education in environmentally sustainable and socially responsible farming as well as social welfare in areas such as education and housing.

104 College Scholarships

In line with the Laughing Man Foundation’s mission, we have offered 104 scholarships to date to children of coffee farming families and members of the community. Currently 58% of our scholarships have been awarded to women and 42% to men. We feel strongly that education is the key to improved economic conditions and opportunity for future generations.


Peru has both a rich coffee tradition and a culture of communities that help one another. When we were developing the coffee training program we were struck by how the communities pooled resources, shared knowledge and worked together to care for the children so the whole community could fully participate in the program. This is a community that wants all its members to succeed.

We were especially moved during the Covid pandemic. These communities were hit particularly hard. Livelihoods that were already fragile were in greater peril. Again, we saw people give the little they had to those with even less, and it has inspired us to give more.

Our work with Sustainable Harvest in Peru focuses on women-led coops. We want to give these women farmers, who are often the most underserved in the community, the tools they need to succeed. Sustainable Harvest offers essential training on how to yield a better crop, bring it to market and create a viable business.

We know that women can change the economy of a region, and we want to see these coffee farming communities flourish. The women farmers from the Chirinos cooperative grow coffees hand-picked by co-op members and their families. They are organic and have developed a world leading composting system called Gaicashi where plagues and pest are controlled naturally without the use of pesticides or herbicides. This coffee is Fair Trade, and Laughing Man is proud to bring these delicious, high quality coffees from the beautiful region to you.
Try Laughing Man Coffee Single Origin - Peru.

Women coffee farmers from the Alto Mayo Cooperative in the San Martin region

Covid-19 hit these communities at a particularly vulnerable time prior to the harvest when many families’ resources were extremely low. Laughing Man Coffee and Sustainable Harvest quickly pivoted their activities to provide essentials for these communities. Education in hygiene and PPE supplies were provided to keep these communities safe and allow them to start the harvest and provide for their families. Much needed food was also provided to help these farming families get through the challenging times of Covid-19.

Focusing on Laughing Man’s the 5 Peruvian suppliers/ project partners, 2,008 of the most vulnerable people in remote areas cut off due to travel restrictions received a lifeline of food, PPE and cleaning supplies “Producer Relief Kits”to help survive during this terrible pandemic.