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383. Stumptown releases Borderlands microlot

Stumptown Coffee yesterday released its first microlot from our Borderlands project in Colombia, comprised of small lots from four farms in Nariño.

If you are interested in exceptional coffee, where it comes from, or both, we humbly suggest three actions:

  1. READ the post below for more detail about the amazing growers behind this amazing coffee;
  2. BUY it here;
  3. WRITE to let us know what you think of it.

  • Rosmira Chincha
    Finca El Guabalito
    community: Matituy
    municipality: La Florida
    elevation: 1922 m


Rosmira is a force of nature.  She is a single mother raising three kids and helping care for her own aging mother in a household of 15 people.  To make ends meet, she finds work during the coffee harvest on other farms in the region.  It is amazing she finds time to produce microlot-caliber coffee on her own farm.  Life may not be easy for Rosmira, but you would never know it–I have never seen the woman doing anything but smiling like she is in this photo.  Her enthusiasm and optimism and energy are absolutely contaigious.  When Adam from Stumptown visited her community last summer, she walked several kilometers to the meeting.  In these shoes.  She was four months pregnant at the time.



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  • Nelsi Julieth Mirama
    Finca La Guía
    community: Tunja La Grande
    municipality: La Florida
    elevation: 1961 m
    variety: Caturra


Nelsi is a quiet leader committed to coffee quality and community.

When I asked Nelsi why her coffee is so good, she told me she takes care to harvest it at peak ripeness and then puts the cherry through another careful selection process before she mills it.  But she was quick to point out that she is not alone: “All of us in Tunja Grande are capable of producing coffee of this quality.”

When I asked her what the Borderlands project means to her, she told me it is not so much what it means to her as what it means to her community: “We hope this project will open doors for all of us.  No one can do it alone.  We need to organize to be able to produce the amount of quality coffee that buyers need.”

In a region not known for the strength of its farmer organizations–Nariño’s only Fair Trade Certified cooperative includes fewer than 300 of the department’s 38,000 coffee growers–Nelsi’s dual commitments to improving coffee quality and organizing her neighbors around the same idea is cause for real excitement.


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  • Nelcy Rocío Villota
    Finca La Tira
    community: Piedra Blanca
    municipality: Samaniego
    elevation: 1965 m
    variety: Caturra

This Nelcy is from another region of Nariño, but she is no less determined than the Nelsi pictured above.  As part of the Fair Trade Certification pilot for independent smallholder farmers that CRS is supporting in Nariño, Nelcy is leading a community organization effort amid some pretty challenging circumstances–Samaniego is beset by armed conflict, illegal armed actors, and coca production and transport.   After the first community meeting held as part of the pilot project, farmers and field staff were detained by armed guerrillas for several hours.  But they have soldiered on and are beginning to be rewarded for their efforts.

Nelcy says this microlot opportunity with Stumptown creates an incentive for her and her neighbors to continue to focus on quality.  She is proud of this microlot–she framed and hung on her wall the certificate we gave her to recognize her success this harvest–but she is not resting on her laurels.  She told me to ask Stumptown for videos and other resources that can help her improve the quality of her coffee for the next harvest: “We can’t get stuck.  We have to keep moving forward.”


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  • Franco Aurelio Manchabajoy
    Finca El Chapal
    community: Matituy
    municipality: La Florida
    elevation: 2029 m
    variety: Caturra


I have not met Franco Aurelio, but have had the opportunity to talk with his son Oswaldo.  During that conversation, Oswaldo wondered whether Stumptown would mention Nariño on the packaging when they brought his coffee to market.  He was worried that people don’might forget about it.

Something tells me that if the participants in this project manage to organize effectively and continue to improve their quality, folks won’t be forgetting about them anytime soon.

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Stumptown Coffee is  a pioneering Direct Trade roaster based in Portland, Oregon, that really needs no introduction.  Along with Atlas Coffee, Counter Culture, Green Mountain, Intelligentsia and Sustainable Harvest, it is working closely with CRS on the Borderlands Coffee Project in Nariño to deliver market-based support and to help participating farmers develop new markets for their coffee.

Read more about Stumptown’s involvement in the project and buy this coffee here.



  • Michael Sheridan says:

    Editor’s Note:

    Stumptown may be the first roaster to make a Borderlands microlot available online. But Counter Culture actually brought the first Borderlands microlot to market when it sent a single-farm lot to Maialino, the well-regarded trattoria in the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York.

    The Tito Raúl Quelal lot on the Maialino breakfast menu is a Colombia variety lot grown at 2079 meters on Tito’s Santa Bárbara farm in the municipality of Chachaguí. The coffee is good: it was awarded the highest average score by the Borderlands Advisory Council last harvest. But the lot is small: just 300 pounds.

    So if you happen to live in lower Manhattan, make a reservation and ask for the Tito Raúl Quelal press pot before it is too late.


  • Michael Skillicorn says:

    Hi Michael,

    Just wanted to say that I am touched by the pictures and stories of the farmers in this post. Thanks for sharing.

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