Douglas

Douglas, Arizona- passionate about their coffee

For RVers on the road, quality craft-roasted coffees can be hard to come by – unless Douglas, Arizona, is their destination this season.

With social justice advocate and Café Justo coffee co-operative co-owner Tommy Bassett calling Douglas home, snowbirds travelling in southern Arizona can be sure to find freshly-roasted coffee with a conscience in and around the quaint Cochise County town.

Rooted in the ideal growing conditions of Chiapas, Mexico, Café Justo coffee is famous for its smooth, acid-free character.

“People who wish coffee tasted like it smelled, really like the coffee,” said Bassett.

Beyond the quality of the beans, Bassett is passionate about spreading the news of the ethical nature of Café Justo brews, and in 2009 co-authored a book to illustrate the positive impact that the grower-owned coffee co-op is having on farmers and families living in Chiapas by providing them a means to make a living on their family lands.

The book, Just Coffee: Caffeine with a Conscience, includes photos of the coffee growers, their community and interesting facts on migration. A combination of personal narrative, theological reflection and macro-level analysis, Bassett said he hopes Just Coffee helps to underline the political-economic factors that drive undocumented immigration and inspire ideas for addressing the underlying problems of poverty and injustice.

The book overviews the simple business model of the Café Justo co-operative. Coffee beans are grown and harvested in Salvador Urbina, Chiapas, before being transported to Agua Prieta, Sonora, to be roasted. From Agua Prieta, Café Justo markets the coffee “in the spirit of justice” and oversees the shipping of the beans to customers in the U.S.

Bassett said he welcomes snowbirds to make Douglas their next destination for a visit to his roasting facility in the U.S.-Mexico border town of Agua Prieta.

“I bring a lot of groups across the border to hang out at the coffee shop, sip coffee and talk to the people from Chiapas,” said Bassett.  “It’s just a good place to go.”

To plan a tour, Bassett recommends contacting the co-operative by visiting www.justcoffee.org or for under $5 take a taxi from the border to the coffee roasting shop, located roughly two miles from the border.

“I travel to an exotic foreign country every single day and I really enjoy it a lot,” said Bassett.  “I think that’s something that makes Douglas different.”

When he’s not doing social justice work across the border, Bassett said he enjoys visiting museums in southern Arizona such as the Gadsden Hotel heritage site and the historic John Slaughter San Bernadino Ranch, as well as wildlife sanctuaries such as the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, where thousands of sandhill cranes can be found from October to February.

“The Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area has a really great birdwatching place where you can see like 20,000 sand hill cranes,” said Bassett.  “I think last year the count was over 15,000. There are observation platforms that extend into a low water area where you can see tens of thousands of birds. It’s just a delight to go out to this time of year.”

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