Our Green Buyer, Brooke, visited our partners in Colombia again in November to meet with the producers who supply our Colombian coffees. Here's what he has to say on his second visit.
I was really looking forwards to this trip and also a little nervous. We had made some large commitments on our last visit and although we had met them all, I wondered if the producers felt the same way. This trip was focused on spending more time at the El Carmen Association, (where our Suarez Project, Seasonal Decaf and El Carmen Filter Roast are all grown and processed) running workshops with the producers, training them in cupping and tasting their coffees. We would then return to El Fenix to cup offer samples for the upcoming harvest.
I needn't have worried. We were warmly greeted by many familiar faces, some of whom you will hear more about later in the year. We spent two days at the lab and community centre, hosting sensory cuppings* (where you taste various fruits, nuts and chocolates) in conjunction with a flavour wheel I had translated for them. The idea being to illustrate what flavours are in their coffees and what we as roasters are looking for.
Afterwards we cupped our production roasts of their coffee so they could see what we were doing with it. Believe it or not the vast majority of coffee producers never get a chance to taste their own product so are not in a position to discuss quality. This leaves them with very little power to negotiate pricing, something we wish to change.
We spent the rest of our time with the Association members walking their farms, discussing their needs and concerns and how we can address them. We are working with our import partner, Raw Materials (a Community Interest Company), on how we can assist with things like pre-financing the harvest and training new lab staff on-site, as well as equipping the lab with better equipment to help them with quality control. Already, three years in we are seeing a marked improvement in consistency and quality which allows us to commit to larger and larger volumes.
Every bag we sell helps us support them and their efforts. If you'd like to get involved or know more about the project feel free to get in touch!