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366. Coffee leaders visit Colombia’s borderlands

Nariño is a coffee-growing region on Colombia’s southern border with Ecuador that is renowned for the quality of its coffee but remains the source of relatively few coffees sourced directly by roasters paying premiums  for coffees of extraordinary quality.  The CRS Borderlands Coffee Project has enlisted the support of an Advisory Board that includes six leading U.S. roasters and importers trying to change that:

Buyers from these companies spent all last week in Colombia with CRS project staff, partners, allies and–most importantly–farmers participating in the project to begin to build new trading relationships built on mutual commitment to quality and value.

DAY 1: MEET the BUYERS

We spent the first day in meetings, including an afternoon event hosted by the Government of Nariño that included small-group discussions with Advisory Council members.  At the beginning of the event, we asked how many people had ever met a coffee buyer.  In a standing-room-only crowd of over 200, three people raised their hands.

 

DAY 2: IN the FIELD

On Day 2, we visited with three farming families in the municipality of La Florida, and were welcomed by the mayor to the site of the farmer-managed coffee washing station the project is building there — Narino’s first.

 

DAY 3: IN the LAB

The week culminated with a full day of cupping.  Advisory Council members  together purchased more than a dozen microlots that scored between 84 and 90 points.  On a day when the going rate in local markets was less than $1 per pound of parchment coffee, prices offered by Advisory Board members reached $3 per pound.

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