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Emily's Corner - Day 1 in Colombia

Colombia here we come! Follow along as Lead Roaster Emily travels to Colombia this week, touring farms, visiting producers, and getting to know some Colombian associations that help women producers gain autonomy and grow quality coffee. Cafe Imports has arranged this trip, and we're so excited to come along and learn about the dynamics of coffee in Colombia and how women producers here are being empowered.

Day 1 (Monday): We left Bogota in the early morning to catch a flight to Popayan with our final destination including a 2.5 hour bus ride to ASMUCAFE, 
an association that the local women of Uribe created to gain autonomy in their lives, especially in terms of farm ownership and financial independence in a typically male-dominated society. They discovered that growing coffee is a good way to reach these goals.

About a year ago, they got a small roaster which allows them to taste and enjoy their own coffee rather than having to buy it at the store. Our Cafe Imports guide explained to us that a big reason for having us all meet today was to roast a couple batches together and give them some pointers on how to properly roast. They warmed up the roaster, and we first observed how they had been roasting so far. For the second batch, we suggested some changes and figured out together how to improve their technique.

Next we went to Finca Agua Clara, the farm run by ASMUCAFE’s legal representative, Yorladis Pino Cruz. There we had a huge lunch with vegetables grown on the farm, and enjoyed a tour. At 1850 meters, they grow 5000 coffee plants of the variety Castillo. We saw a new planting, along with plants in the process of being pruned, and also the plants they have been harvesting from most recently. All the work there is done manually, the picking often done by neighbors, and the cherries are hauled up to their processing station. It’s a lot of heavy lifting! We got to see where the coffee was washed and dried, but since the main harvest was over, there were only some lower quality beans drying. 

A fun story: 

Sweet Shelby, customer service rep at Cafe Imports, took a bite of a hot pepper that they gave her not knowing it would be excruciatingly spicy. Lots of tearing up, sweating, and a woman feeding her sugar cane honey to help stop the heat. Everyone was laughing/joking/feeling bad, but it was somehow a sweet moment that brought the Colombians and travelers closer together rather than the interpreters being our social connection.

Excited to take on more from Day 2 of this amazing country. Check back for more updates!

 - Emily, Lead Roaster

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