Los Angeles Cupping

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Friends in SoCal, Colleen is coming your way for a series of cuppings. 

She’ll be in LA on Friday November 2nd at 10am for a cupping of stellar Colombian, Kenyan and Guatemalan coffees with our friends from Paramount Coffee Project in DTLA

Spaces are limited, so email Colleen to reserve yours.

CCS Exclusive: Finca Deborah, 2019

The breadth and depth of expertise in the CCS team is astounding. Case in point, Veronika Galova Vesela, one of our sales representatives in Europe, is the reigning Slovakian Brewers Cup champion. Veronika will depart for Brazil next week for the World Brewers Cup championship. This is the fifth time Veronika will be competing on a world coffee stage, representing her home country, and the third time she will be competing using Finca Deborah coffee from producer Jamison Savage in Panama. 


Deborah Geisha Natural and Carbonic Maceration

CCS is thrilled to announce that we will have seven 15kg boxes of Finca Deborah Geisha Natural and seven 15kg boxes of Geisha Carbonic Maceration coffee from the 2019 harvest. 

This coffee will be available in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with the exception of a few countries*, and will be exclusive to CCS in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. Samples are expected in May-June, with the coffee due to arrive end of August, but the coffee can be booked right now. 

What makes this coffee so special?

Finca Deborah is owned and run by Jamison Savage, originally from the US, and his Panamanian wife Leslie H. Freitag. In 2007 the pair bought land in the mountains of Volcan, Chiriqui at an elevation of 1900 masl. After several years of infrastructure works, including the construction of a 1km road to reach their farm, and a solar energy system to power their processing facility, they began planting trees in 2010. 

The first harvest was in 2014, but much of the coffee was lost to inclement weather. The second harvest reached the market in 2015, and it immediately earned a reputation for being among the world’s best. The following year, Finca Deborah was the coffee used in the winning presentation by the World Barista Champion, Berg Wu. 

Veronika visited Finca Deborah in 2017, a place she describes as heaven on earth. 

“It's such a beautiful farm, it looks more like a jungle, with coffee trees interspersed, providing necessary shade.”

Part of what makes Deborah such an astounding coffee is Jamison’s rigorous approach to cultivation and processing. The Deborah Geisha Natural that Veronika will use in competition is dried on a three-tiered structure of Jamison’s own design. The coffee begins on the top layer, with full sun exposure to kill unwanted bacteria and initiate the fermentation process. The coffee moves to the second layer, with additional shade to develop the sweetness. Finally it is moved to the bottom layer to dry slowly until the moisture content is reduced to 11%. 

Jamison Savage and his three-tiered drying beds, Finca Deborah, Panama

Jamison Savage and his three-tiered drying beds, Finca Deborah, Panama

The other key factor in producing exceptional quality is the unique environment of Finca Deborah. Bordered to the east by Costa Rica, the high elevation of the farm means temperatures can drop to as low as 10 degree celsius at night, causing the trees to push more sugars into their fruit. Combined with an ideal rainfall of 2200 mm per year, a soil rich in minerals, and careful use of organic fertilizer, the result is an intensely sweet cup.

Selecting coffee for competition

The Brewers Cup is sometimes called a “sourcing competition.” Unlike the Barista Championship, where so many points are attributed to service and the innovation and deliciousness of the signature drink, the Brewers Cup competitors are judged almost entirely on the final cup. Veronika’s goal in this year’s international competition is to let this coffee speak for itself. 

“In my brew I am aiming to unlock all the flavors and capture the unique profile of Deborah, its sweetness and complex fruity spectrum.” 

What drives Veronika to compete year after year is also a driving force behind CSS, to tell the stories of these coffees, and the many committed coffee professionals working to realize its full potential.  

“Producer, Roaster and Barista - we all are striving to bring the best possible coffee to the cup. We can achieve it only when working together with the same level of passion and dedication.”  

Veronika Trains for the World Brewers Cup


Watch Veronika’s competition performance

Veronika will be taking the stage for the first round of the World Brewers Cup on Wednesday November 7 at 3.45pm local time (6.45pm GMT). Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for links to the Live Stream of her performance. 

And, of course, contact Nico, Bjørnar or Veronika in Europe, or Julia in Asia, to book this exclusive coffee from Finca Deborah in 2019. It is available to reserve now. Need that unique stunner to wow the judges in an upcoming competition? Check out our full range of Competition Coffees

* Finca Deborah will not be available through CCS in the following countries: France, Germany, UK, Greece, Australia, Malaya Thailand and Korea



CCS Monthly Cupping

Beginning this November, CCS will hold a monthly cupping in our Oslo HQ.

On the first Thursday of the month we will make a selection of coffees to cup with our friends in the specialty coffee community. It will be a relaxed family affair and everyone is welcome.

On the table you’ll find a selection of the most interesting lots we have cupped in the last month, be they experimental lots, new origins or regions, or simply delicious coffees we want you to try. 

Anyone interested in specialty coffee is welcome. 

Join us for the first of our monthly cuppings on Thursday November 1, 3pm at the CCS Oslo HQ: Enebakkveien 117b, 0680, Oslo, Norway.

Email Bjornar for more information. 


San Diego Cupping

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Friends in SoCal, Colleen is coming your way for a series of cuppings. She’ll be in San Diego on November 1st for a cupping of stellar Colombian, Kenyan and Guatemalan coffees with our friends from Manzanita Roasting Company.

The roastery is located at the south entrance of the Bernardo Winery. (Stick around for a wine tasting if you’re so inclined.)

Spaces are limited, so email Colleen to reserve yours.

Colombia Origin Trip Update

The “best flavor profile” is, obviously, highly subjective. Mine changes by the hour. I often look for something smooth and chocolatey in the mornings. In the afternoon, give me something lively and exciting.

Whatever your profile, it’s likely you can find it in Colombia.

The CCS team has been all over Colombia in the last few months. On this trip we visited Nariño, Huila and Tolima as guests of our export partners, Fairfield Trading. I split this trip with Colleen, and met the team in Acevedo. We immediately packed ourselves into one of FFT’s safari-style off-road vehicles and set off for the first farm visit.

Finca Los Angeles

We soon arrived at Finca Los Angeles, home of the much-lauded Maria Bercelia Martinez. We spent time touring the farm and discussing the many upgrades and additions she has implemented since our last visit. Success, of course, does not come without hard work and innovation, and Maria is a leader in both. In addition to refining the infrastructure (drying beds, fermentation tanks, and her super-impressive custom patio), Maria is experimenting with new varietals and processing methods.

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San Agustin

From Finca Los Angeles, we made our way west to San Augustin. Fairfield Trading, one of our partners in Colombia, recently purchased and renovated a storefront to become a new purchasing point. This will act as a satellite location for buying coffee, sample roasting and other quality assurance measures, and general business practices. When I say recently, I mean the last coat of paint was drying the night before we arrived! To be among the first to see the beautiful new facility was a spectacular honor. You could see how proud the FFT team was of what they accomplished, and they were so very excited to share it with us. Like their coffee, their hard work on the facility was evident, and they should be proud of the result. Best of luck, Alejandro, Sascha, Ana Beatriz, Eduardo and the rest of the team!

Welcome, clients and producers! The inauguration of the Fairfield Trading purchasing point, San Agustin, Huila, Colombia. From left to right, Stephanie and Dillon from Parlor Coffee, Alejandro of Fairfield Trading, Robert William Thoresen of CCS, and producer Maria Bercelia Martinez.

Welcome, clients and producers! The inauguration of the Fairfield Trading purchasing point, San Agustin, Huila, Colombia. From left to right, Stephanie and Dillon from Parlor Coffee, Alejandro of Fairfield Trading, Robert William Thoresen of CCS, and producer Maria Bercelia Martinez.

Bring on the coffees!

With a fresh boost of inspiration from the unveiling, it was time for the guest of honor – the coffee! We spent the next three days at the old purchasing point in San Augustin, cupping just under one hundred lots. Our group was a big one, with CCS customers from all over the globe including Parlor Coffee from Brooklyn, NY, Sey Coffee from Brooklyn, NY, Behind The Cup from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Reveille Coffee from San Francisco, CA. The space was tight, but with the masterful sample roasting of Esnaider Ortega and direction of Eduardo Urquina, the operation was fantastically smooth. On the table were coffees from Huila including Acevedo (Tarqui, Baralla, and San Augustin), Valle de Cauca (Caicedonia), and Tolima (Planadas, San Antonio and Ibague). The scope of flavor profiles was impressive! The coffees ranged from soft subtle florals, to big bright citric fruits, and even super sweet chocolate/caramel.

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See you in Acevedo

My time in Colombia was short, but as always, very impactful. I came away from the trip as I normally do: feeling blessed to have the opportunity to spend time and learn from some of the best coffee minds and hardest working individuals in the industry. We are all eager for these delicious coffees to make their way to your hands, and I am already dreaming of my next trip to Colombia. Luckily, the Acevedo Cup is right around the corner! Stay tuned for details.

CCS at the International Barcelona Coffee Festival

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CCS and our friends at SlowMov will kick off the International Barcelona Coffee Festival with a cupping of fresh crops from Kenya, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, plus a few surprises! 

Wednesday Oct 10th, 5 pm
SlowMov
Address: Carrer de Luis Antúnez, 18, 08006 Barcelona, Espagne

Spaces are limited to 15 people. Email Nico to confirm yours.

CCS at the Prague Coffee Festival

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Friends in Czech Republic, CCS is coming to town for the Prague Coffee Festival. Veronika will be there, brewing with our friends at Coffee Desk, and visiting CCS family members including Populus CoffeeDoubleshotNordbeansCasino Mocca, Diamond’s RoasteryMorgon Coffee Roasters, and Kavárna Pražírna.

Join us in the Cupping Room on Saturday October 20 at 1.30pm to cup some fresh crops from Costa Rica, and La Palma y El Tucán from Cundinamarca, Colombia. Plus we will have a selection of incoming coffees from Peru, a new origin for CCS.

Veronika is around to meet and discuss your roastery’s menu, forward planning for 2019, or just to have a chat. Email Veronika to make a time.

CCS Top Five: Veronika

It's no secret I'm big lover of Panamanian coffees. It is the first origin I visited and my favorite coffee origin to compete with at brewing competitions, because of my personal connection to this country. So my Top Five consists mostly of Panama, but there are some surprises from Latin America too. Click on a title to order a sample.

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1. Finca Elida Green Tip Geisha Natural

One of the farms I have visited in February 2017 was Finca Elida, owned by the Lamastus family. They are well known for such a great Geisha lots, winning Best of Panama year after year and baristas repeatedly competing with their coffees. No wonder - this is the one you should go for your competition. Intense floral aroma with flavors of strawberries, hint of mint and creamy body. Sounds like a delicious dessert!    


2. Finca Elida Catuai Natural

When we did a blind cupping at the farm I found my favorite ever coffee: Catuai, naturally processed. It has intense candy sweetness with a fruit explosion, which it consistently delivers each year, crop after crop. Even the geishas were jealous.  


3. El Burro Geisha Natural

I tried to get to El Burro, driving two hours uphill on a rugged path that was one meter deep and the width of our car. Sadly it started to rain and the road became muddy and slippery. We had to turn back, but I see now in my cup how precious are those climate conditions up there. This coffee explodes with apricots, bergamot, exotic florals, strawberry.  It is juicy, sweet, and a well balanced cup.  


4. Brazil, Santuario Sul, Sudan Rume, Anaerobic 

Coffees on the drying beds at Santuario Sul. On the left, natural processed coffee. On the right, anaerobic.

Coffees on the drying beds at Santuario Sul. On the left, natural processed coffee. On the right, anaerobic.

Every morning I come to office and I brew my V60 and share with my colleague Suzie - the best start of the day, with a proper cup. I never thought I would be excited about brewing Brazilian coffee, but this year the team from Carmo Coffees brought lots which are total game changers. My favorite is the Sudan Rume processed by anaerobic fermentation - such a clean and fruity cup! Read more about these exciting coffees



5. Sidra 152 Lactic

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Team of La Palma Y El Tucan are open about being coffee nerds. So am I and I believe most of us are, competitors especially. When looking for something funky, unexpected from Colombian coffees, they have wide selection of Heroes Series coffees including Sidra, Geisha, SL28 varieties. This year my favorite is a Sidra Lactic, fermented specifically to to play around with different acids found in the coffee. This sweet fruity coffee sparkles with blackberry, florals and banana. Buy it! Brew it! Win!

See Bjørnar’s Top Five.

CCS at PIR Coffee Expo

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Friends in Russia, drop by Booth 3F115 at PIR Coffee Expo and say hi to Nico. He’ll be there with our partners KLD Coffee Importers on Wednesday September 26 and Thursday September 27.

On Friday September 28 at 11am Nico will be at the KLD offices hosting a cupping of fresh crops La Palma y El Tucán. Contact Nicolas for more details.

CCS Friends & Family: Reveille Coffee Roasters

As part of our mission to source the right coffee the right way, we invest heavily in long term meaningful relationships in the coffee industry. This includes relationships with our customers, coffee roasters. We love growing with a business, understanding your markets, connecting you to producers, and sourcing the perfect coffee for you. We consider you a part of the CCS family.

This is the first in an ongoing series of blog posts celebrating the businesses and the people roasting CCS-sourced coffee.

Interview with Prestin Yoder, Roaster, Reveille Coffee Roasters

Prestin Yoder, Reveille Coffee Roasters, San Francisco

Prestin Yoder, Reveille Coffee Roasters, San Francisco

Describe your coffee journey

I went to college and immediately got a gig as a barista. Found it a useful skill as a side-hustle while I did school. After graduating, I was not comfortable working within my line of study. At the time I found friends who were trying to improve quality of green, roasted and brewed coffee. The culture was lit with critical thinking and potential. I wanted in. Working my way through Seattle, New York and San Francisco, I soaked myself into a dissolved solid.


Why do you roast coffee?

I like the work. It’s interesting, gratifying and fun. I have been working with coffee for over a decade now, I want to get closer to the product and its producers. I like the challenge, meditation and discovery of the job.


If you weren’t working in coffee, what would you be doing?

Painting and mashing apples hillside.


(After coffee) what is the thing you love most?

People, my first love.


If you could change one thing about specialty coffee, what would it be?

Compensation for farmers. The chain has got to change, though I know we are better off now than before, there is much work to be done. This is a multifaceted issue of course.


If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

Our current administration.

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Tell us about Reveille Coffee Roasters

It started with two brothers, Christopher and Thomas Newbury. They tricked out an old DHL truck and started brewing the best coffee they could find. It was a modest operation for San Francisco, but it proved to suit the neighborhood of Jackson Square. After that, they locked down their first brick and mortar location in North Beach. As the company grew, logistically, the next step was to roast for themselves.


What makes Reveille Coffee Roasters special?

Reveille’s roastery is unique to me because it is one of the few light roasters in the city. We push the cup score for the Bay Area with acidity and clarity. I also find the coffees that CCS provide us with are above par. Quality green cannot lie.


Tell us about the San Francisco coffee scene

Oh San Francisco. What a romance, a steel colander of colorful characters strained into a reserved social disposition. It’s beautiful here, the greenscapes at your fingertips and the ocean whispering at you from all sides. We are fortunate to have a big audience for quality coffee here. Coffee is a staple for most folks in SF, the everyday consumer is a bit more conscious of what is good. The tech community has a special place in their heart for specialty coffee, they never cease to surprise me with their level of engagement.


What is your favorite CCS coffee?

That’s hard to say. One that comes to mind is the 2017 Harvest of Gakuyu-ini AB from Kirinyaga. That coffee was seductive with red velvet, saturated berry sweetness, ethereal hibiscus florality and a nippy carignan grape/cranberry finish...just for the record. That coffee aged really well, I appreciated how it opened up and remained vibrant/stable beyond 10 months post-harvest.


Preferred super power: flying or invisibility?

Flying, true Leo styles!

Ljubljana Coffee Festival

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Friends in Slovenia, Veronika is coming to the Ljubljana Coffee Festival.

On Friday the 5th of October Veronika will give a presentation on the role of a sourcing company in the specialty coffee supply chain in The Lab, and at 5pm she will lead a cupping of select CCS summer crops at the Sensory Cupping Table.

On Saturday she will be around, judging the barista competition and meeting old and new friends. Want to meet with Veronika? Get in touch.

Honduras Cupping with Benjamin Paz

We are thrilled to announce that our good friend Benjamin Paz will be in Oslo next week. Benjamin is both a producer and an exporter of coffee from Santa Barbara. To celebrate, we will host a cupping of fresh crop Honduran coffees that are fresh off the boat.

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Spaces are limited. Email Bjørnar to reserve yours.

Summer's End Celebration Recap

The CCS Summer’s End Celebration was our biggest cupping event for the year so far. For two action-packed days we cupped, chatted, discussed, competed and partied with roasters from all over the world.

Tetsu Kasuya wowed us all with his cupping skills in the LPET Tasters Challenge, and took home the great prize of 12.5kg of La Palma y El Tucan Heroes Series Sidra Lactic. Spectators were also part of the action with a competition to guess the winner of the finals and their time. Emi of Mame Coffee in Switzerland was the lucky winner of 1kg of LPET gesha, by picking Tetsu as the winner of the competition, guessing he would complete the challenge in one minute. It took Tetsu 51 seconds.

Stay tuned for details of our next cupping event in November. Sign up for our newsletter to make sure you are the first to know.

We're Hiring

PLease note, this position has been filled. Thank you to everyone who applied.

QUALITY CONTROL & ROASTING ASSISTANT, NORTH AMERICA

Collaborative Coffee Source (CCS) is looking for a self-motivated individual to join our team in the Boston area in North America. This individual will assist the Global Buyer & Quality Control Manager - responsible for the quality control of all the green coffee imported by our company - and provide additional support for Sales and Logistics. This is a full time position with some travel, based in the Boston area.


Who are CCS

We are a quality and education focused green coffee sourcing and import company founded in Oslo, Norway, and are expanding our market in North America.

CCS currently sources coffee in ten countries from Central & South America and East Africa and serve clients across three continents: Europe, North America and Asia. 
 

RESPONSIBILITIES & TASKS

Handle green coffee samples from inventory management of samples to distributing samples to customers, as well as samples roasting and setting up cuppings for customers. This includes:

  • Receive Samples (offer samples, pre-shipment samples, arrival samples, miscellaneous);

  • Perform quality control on all samples that have been received (e.g. water activity, moisture level, Blacklight);

  • Enter coffee data (origin info & QC results) into Cropster and Quality Control Google spreadsheet;

  • Roast & cup received samples, send feedback if needed and/or report back

  • Manage outgoing samples that are to be sent out to potential customers from Sales Team;

  • Manage samples for Sales Presentations;

  • Maintain Cropster Hub;

  • Organize lab, create systems, protocols, etc.;

  • Sales support;

  • Logistics support processing releases and providing customer service.

 

QUALIFICATIONS

  • Education and/or experience: a minimum of five (5) years in specialty coffee with at least one (1) year roasting experience.

REQUIRED SKILLS

  • Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills;

  • A demonstrated capability to collaborate with and maintain effective relationships with colleagues and customers;

  • A flexible nature, positive temperament and ability to handle stressful situations;

  • Enjoys working independently with minimal guidance as well as with a close-knit team;

  • Strong work ethic, self-motivated;

  • The ability to maintain confidentiality in all matters;

  • Strong attention to detail;

  • Strong written and verbal communication skills;

  • Demonstrated creativity and initiative finding solutions for key issues.

 

To apply, please submit your resume to Robyn

 

 

Update from Guatemala: Volcán de Fuego

On Sunday June 3rd, Guatemala’s Volcán de Fuego erupted. Within minutes, homes, villages and coffee farms were consumed by a pyroclastic flow, a fast-moving mixture of hot gas and volcanic rock.

Activity in this volcano is common, however the force of this eruption took everyone by surprise. It shot a blast of smoke more than 6km into the sky, and rained ash and volcanic rock down for miles around. The government declared a state of emergency in Chimaltenango, Escuintla and Sacatepéquez, the provinces most badly affected, where an estimated 70 people were killed and 1.7 million affected. 

CCS has been sourcing coffee from this region for over five years, with the help and guidance of our export partners at the Bella Vista Mill. 

How to help

Many of you have asked how you can help our producers and partners in this region. Some of you have raised funds and would like to know how to get the money to those who need it. 

Below is an update from Melanie Herrera of Bella Vista Mill, including suggestions for donations to help our people on the ground. 


Antigua Guatemala, August 27th, 2018

UPDATE ON FUEGO

Hello all.

I hope this letter finds you well.

As many of you know, on June 3rd, Fuego erupted causing a lot of damage in Guatemala.

Some members of our team were affected. Some lost family members, some lost their homes and belongings, some died during the disaster. Some coffee plantations were affected by ash and lava.

We have been working on how to support our team in the best way we can. We have given some time for things to calm down and to find out how our friends have been affected. After some time of discussion we have decided to involve a third party with experience in fundraising, distribution and emergency relief.

We have agreed to partner with Funcafé, the social arm of Anacafe, created to pursue socio-economic development of coffee producers in Guatemala. We will have a specific fund with Funcafé to help our crew who have been affected by the eruption. Funcafé will work on a diagnosis to fully understand the needs of everyone affected and will work on a plan to allocate the funds that many of you raised for this cause. If you would like to make a donation please contact me so I can give you instructions.

Thank you very much for your love, friendship and support. We highly appreciate it.

Kindly,
Melanie Herrera
Bella Vista
Antigua, Guatemala

Photo:  La Republica

 

 

Valle De Cauca Origin Update

Earlier this month Colleen King, of our US West Coast office, and I visited Valle del Cauca, Colombia. It was CCS’ first official visit to this department which is better known for producing cane sugar, than coffee.   
 

Café Sello Mujer 

One of the reasons for visiting Valle del Cauca was to meet the women of Café Sello Mujer in Caicedonia. 

Though they only officially formed in December 2017, the group already have a significant project under their belt: the launch of their own brand of roasted coffee. With the assistance of Cafexcoop mill, the group set a quality standard, and all coffees from the last harvest that met that standard, were blended, roasted, ground and packaged by the mill. 

This impressive association of women producers has a very clear vision of what they need, and where they want to go. Their number one priority is improving the quality of the coffee. The second priority is increasing visibility of women producers in Colombia.
 

Left to right: Aneth Choronta, Floralba Peña Peña and Amparo Corrales Baena of Café Sello Mujer women's producer association. 

Left to right: Aneth Choronta, Floralba Peña Peña and Amparo Corrales Baena of Café Sello Mujer women's producer association. 

Obstacles faced by women producers in Colombia

Eugenia Balanta, Director of the Cafexcoop mill. 

Eugenia Balanta, Director of the Cafexcoop mill. 

Eugenia Balanta is the director of the Cafexcoop mill and one of only a few women executives in coffee in Colombia.

Eugenia identified several obstacles that women producers face in Colombia that may prevent them from achieving the quality needed to earn a premium for their coffee. Firstly, she said, women struggle to access training programs offered by cooperatives, aid agencies and the FNC. In addition to cultivating coffee, women are expected to care for children and manage the household. If attending a training program requires traveling overnight, very few women can attend, as it would mean leaving their children. 

Secondly, even when women are cultivating the coffee, their husbands may be the one making the business decisions. This may include whether or not they can enter their coffee into competitions like Valle Cafetero. 

Esperanza Fajardo of Café Sello Mujer agrees that support from men in the family is essential to the success of women producers. Her husband was waiting outside while we discussed their project and obstacles unique to women producers in societies like Colombia’s. While some may view this as a further suppression of women’s rights, Esperanza and her group see it as true equality. Women and men will always coexist, so cooperation is imperative. 

The women in this association meet every two weeks, which is a serious commitment, given how far they need to travel. Some of them don’t own a car or a motorbike, so husbands become bus drivers, collecting and returning women from these meetings. 

At its core however, Café Sello Mujer is about women helping women. They support each other through “mingas” which are working bees, or barn raising events, where the women work communally on projects on each others’ farms.

They also plan to harness digital media to tell their stories. Very often women in Colombia become producers because fathers, husbands or brothers are killed in Colombia’s long running internal conflict, but while this is part of their story, it is not what defines them as producers. Nor do they want to be presented as the beauty queens of coffee. “We won’t dress it up, we won’t be something else, we will tell our stories how we want them to be told,” said member Aneth Choronta.  

The next coffee harvest in Caicendonia is Dec/Jan, and we look forward to cupping coffee from producers of the Cafe Sello Mujer association. 
 

Men wait on "Women's Street" in Caicedonia, Valle del Cauca. 

Men wait on "Women's Street" in Caicedonia, Valle del Cauca. 

Valle Cafetero Competition

The reason for visiting Valle del Cauca this month was to attend the fourteenth Valle Cafetero competition. The competition was run by the Cafexcoop mill which is owned by the four cooperatives associated with the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC).

The department is better known for producing high volumes of coffee than high quality, but this competition aims to increase visibility of specialty coffee in the department, and motivate producers to invest in improving quality. Over the last fourteen years of the competition, the scores of the coffees have vastly improved and the range of scores is narrower, suggesting that overall quality is improving every year.

Over 190 coffees were entered into the competition. The Cafexcoop team narrowed these down to 30 for the panel of judges. The top three winners received a cash prize and all of the top 30 coffees were up for sale at a silent auction at the award ceremony. 

Twenty-one of the top 30 coffees were sold during the auction. The lowest priced coffee sold at 30% above the current price in Colombia, while the top placing coffee sold well over 500% of the current price. 

The majority of the coffees were sold to exporters with South Korean clients. While we didn’t buy any coffees during the auction, we did identify several producers with delicious coffees, and we will be following up with them in the coming months. The event clearly showed this department has great promise. 


Business Round

All 30 coffee growers were invited to give a short presentation to the judges before the auction. The intention was two-fold: add value to the coffees by telling the story of the producer, and empower producers to negotiate prices for their coffees. While many of the presentations were more like a sales pitch, such as “my coffee is the best,” the experience was valuable to the producers who described it as terrifying, but also exciting to be a part of the sales process.
 

ABOUT VALLE DEL CAUCA

Some basic statistics:

  • 25,815 fincas in Valle del Cauca
  • 61,145 hectares in coffee
  • Most specialty is 1500-2100m
  • Density of planting is 4768 trees/hectare
  • Average age of trees is 7.6 years
  • Coffees are grown along the 2 Andes ranges in the department
  • 151 microcuencas
  • 30.2% of the members of these co-ops are women
  • The 4 coops have 3302 members in total

Valle del Cauca is a department located on the Pacific coast, bordered by Chocó, Tolima and Cauca. This department is named after the Cauca river that runs through it, and this river is the basis of their unique approach to coffee cultivation. 

The National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) divides Colombia into 86 “ecotopos” (ecotopes in English) within seven different coffee growing regions. These ecotopos are geographical areas that share the same soil and climatic conditions. Using this guide, the FNC create sustainable development programs, technical and crop forecasting models, and study the relationship between climatic conditions of the ecotopos and the cup quality they produce.

In Valle del Cauca, the flowing waters of the Cauca River unite the people, so instead of using ecotopes to determine their coffee sustainability strategy, the department uses “Micro-Cuencas” or micro river basins. Micro-Cuencas are the epicenter of the community and the source of coffee quality. Everyone, whether they work in coffee or not, must do their part to ensure the water is respected, because contamination flows downstream and negatively affects everything: the environment, the people, and ultimately, the coffee quality.  

Sustainability programs in Valle del Cauca work with the unique ecosystem of each Mirco-Cuenca. They encourage coffee cultivation in harmony with the natural resources, maintaining the balance of the local insect population, stimulating natural fertility of the soil, and conserving the river basin for the future of both coffee cultivation, and the community.