This past March 11th, a Rochester legend and friend of the El Sauce coffee farmers, “Java” Joe Palozzi, passed away at age 68.
I first met Java in 2013 when he first visited El Sauce to investigate the possibility of buying the coffee crop of farmers in Ocotal. I didn’t drink or even like coffee at that point in my life, and Java made sure to correct that. He brought his own coffee and French press everywhere we went and forced me to drink it until I liked it. Fortunately, he was a master roaster, so it didn’t take long.
I also didn’t know anything about the coffee industry, and Java could an intimidating person to work with. “Let the stupid stay stupid,” was his response to everyone who wanted his expertise in the coffee industry. It was a phrase I heard him repeat constantly, all while teaching me everything I know about the coffee industry. Java wasn’t known for saying nice things, but he certainly did nice things, exemplified by his fair treatment of the Ocotal farmers.
Joe, who worked as a coffee farmer in Hawaii in the early 80’s, understood how much work goes into coffee farming and how little that average small-plot coffee farmers earn for their labor. He was sympathetic with the farmers' situation, and he tried to do his part to ensure that the farmers he worked with were treated and compensated fairly. It was the first time anyone had expressed interest in working directly with the farmers in Ocotal. Our hope was to get the farmers a good price, and Java wanted to source high-quality, green bean coffee. In the end, neither party was disappointed. Java paid more for their coffee than they had ever imagined possible, and he motivated the farmers to honor and continue their generations-old trade.
Java Joe will be dearly missed not only at the Public Market in Rochester where most knew him, but also high up in the mountains of Ocotal, El Sauce.
For more on Java Joe, check out this article: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2017/03/12/joe-palozzi-leader-rochester-indie-coffee-scene/99105154/