In this blog post we interview our very own Jan von Enden, the General Manager of Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung (HRNS), North America. Jan is focused on creating opportunities for coffee farming communities around the world.

I: Good morning Jan

J: Good Morning

I: First, could you tell us why you developed an interest in coffee farming? 

J: From the first moment in Papua New Guinea where I visited a coffee community, the dynamics and the complexity of the coffee sector fascinated me. I was especially impressed by the openness and kindness of farmer families, opening their houses for me and answering my questions. I learned a lot from these conversations, especially that there are many different views on the world, money and family, and that working with coffee communities requires a deep understanding of the culture before talking about technical agronomy and quality.

I: Is Papua New Guinea the only country you have visited? 

J: I had my first contact with a coffee farm in Papua New Guinea. My father worked there in the ’70s as a coffee exporter and my sister was born there. When I visited PNG at the age of 16, my passion for coffee was ignited – after finishing my studies I went on to work in coffee communities in Peru, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, Indonesia, Peru, Colombia, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico.

Hanns r. Neumann Stiftung Foundation Jan von Enden
Jan (right) during a recent origin trip to Colombia.

I: How long did you live in those countries for? 

J: My longest stays were 5 years in Vietnam, 4 years in Costa Rica and 1 year in Peru.

I: Why did you choose to focus on these particular countries and what made you decide to stay for that long?

J: I basically followed whichever possibilities opened up for me. I just wanted to work in coffee communities and become a coffee expert. It was clear to me that I could only become a coffee expert by staying prolonged times in the communities that grow coffee. I am very thankful that I had the chance to do that – I made many friends during these times and learned a lot. And today with Coffee Kids and HRNS I can build the bridge between farmers, roasters and consumers. That is what I always wanted!

I: If you could, which countries do you most want to go back to and why?

J: That would definitely be Vietnam and Papua New Guinea. My time in those two places was the longest and most intensive. The culture and graciousness of the people and their hard work inspired me. The rise of the coffee sector in Vietnam is no coincidence. Farmers are dedicated coffee producers there and the Robusta production is quite profitable. There are really impressive personal stories of farmers who in the ’80s did not have enough food to feed their families but have overcome tremendous challenges and are now buying their first motorbikes and building new houses.

Then, of course, PNG is where I got in touch with coffee for the first time. The country is probably the most beautiful in terms of nature and the most fascinating in terms of local culture.

I: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, and for letting our readers get to know you a bit!