Caturra, Castillo, Colombia
May to July 2020
Colombia and coffee: two words that are practically synonymous with each other in many of our minds. As the world’s third largest producer of coffee, and second largest producer of arabica behind only Brazil, the country is a global powerhouse in the coffee industry. Unlike Brazil, where large plantation style farms are the norm, in Colombia, coffee is overwhelmingly grown on small to medium farms. What’s more, the traditional culture of the coffee growers, or cafeteros in Spanish, idealizes structural independence – one family working one farm, taking their coffee all the way from seedlings to coffee beans. Unfortunately, for many families, this method of farming is not only arduous and unpredictable, it is often financially loss-making, creating an uncertain future for producers here.
Working for several years with Raw Material, a social enterprise coffee importer who got their start in Colombia, we at Caravan have had the great pleasure of getting to know many producers throughout the country. We’ve heard personal accounts of the difficulties farmers endure due to periods of low prices, challenges due to weather and climate change, and the lack of adequate financial tools and resources in their communities. Raw Material identified early on through talking with producers that price insecurity and fluctuations are one of the most debilitating aspects of coffee farming.
Resulting from these conversations, the Raw Material model for paying farmers is built around a stable, above-market pricing structure which is 100% transparent and easy to understand. Their team of technical staff on the ground in Colombia meet regularly with farmers to listen to their concerns and come up with community-led ideas for improvements in quality, yield, and storage which work within existing structures. Additionally, Raw Material seeks to connect roasters who are committed to long term sustainable relationships, such as ourselves, to producers and organisations who grow coffees that match their requirements.
The department of Risaralda is one of three departments (alongside Caldas and Quindio) which comprise the famous Colombian Coffee Triangle – an area with a long historical relationship to coffee production and where its cultivation remains central to the local culture, called caficultor in Spanish. In Risaralda, Raw Material works primarily with farmers in three towns – Santuario, El Aguila, and Belen de Umbria, where producers are organized into small associations. Working with trained personnel to select coffees throughout the harvest, Raw Material blends together coffees from several producers into a regional blend which is specifically crafted for Caravan. This coffee is available year-round due to the unique terroir of the area – with two harvests throughout the year, a fresh supply is possible before the previous one ever starts showing signs of aging.
Risaralda is intentionally prepared at all levels to highlight sweetness and balance, and to shine at darker roast levels. This coffee is, for us, a chance to share the flavours and stories which embody many of the unique features of Colombian coffee and the people who grow it. Throughout the year we are in constant contact with the team in Colombia, making this one of the strongest partnerships we have at Caravan. We are delighted to share the results of this ongoing relationship with our customers in the spirit of caficultor – the coffee culture which ties us all together.
Caravan Coffee Roasters are proud members of 1% for the Planet. For more information please visit https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org
Risaralda was crafted at all stages to taste great at darker roast levels. We find this coffee to be extremely forgiving as an espresso, with a thick body and loads of sweetness. As a starting point, we suggest trying 19 grams of ground coffee to 38 grams of liquid espresso, with shot times between 25-30 seconds.