Day 4 started off with some travel, a simple breakfast, and plans to tour a couple warehouses in La Unión, before visiting some farms. As we walked down the streets to the BANEXPORT warehouse, we noticed warehouse after warehouse where producers can bring their coffee. They often have to travel a long way to get there - hours, and some have to take multiple trips during harvest season.
After getting a tour of the BANEXPORT warehouse and tasting some coffee, we went to the FUDAM warehouse where we met the head of FUDAM, Raquel Lasso. In 2022, coffee grown on her farm, La Bohemia, won the National 2022 Cup of Excellence. While we were at the warehouse, they brewed us some delicious coffee in a Chemex.
After visiting the warehouses, we took a long bus ride up and around the mountainsides to visit a couple different farms. We took the scenic route, stopping for photos up at approximately 2700 MASL, above an elevation where coffee can grow. It was beautiful up there, with cooler temperatures, a welcomed break from the heat. Then we made our way back down the mountainside a little ways for our farm visits. This area doesn't receive a ton of tourists, so the local children were excited to have visitors. We walked down to a stream which we crossed on rocks.
Crossing the stream on our way to El Recuerdo
One of the farms we visited is called El Recuerdo, run by Matilde Ordones. She has about 30 years in the coffee growing business, and her outlook on the future is slightly hopeful despite environmental challenges and the ever-changing coffee market. She believes it will take a lot of work, but it isn't impossible with the right people and practices in place. Thankfully, she is confident that one of their current employees is passionate about the industry and she foresees him taking over the farm when she's ready to end her tenure.
Matilde Ordones, owner of El Recuerdo
El Recuerdo has been working with FUDAM since 2017. They take 2-4 trips to La Unión (a 2-hour drive) during the main harvest. They use their horse for everything, and have to take coffee across the stream that we traveled through for our visit, which can be difficult when it rains a lot and the water rises.
Farm horse used for transport
Matilde served us a lunch consisting of panini-style bologna, cheese, honey and some Coca Cola, which was welcomed after our long bus ride to visit them. She showed us around their farm, which they are really proud of despite its slightly rough condition. For a non-local, it was a bit tough to navigate, but we felt fortunate for the opportunity to connect at this level. It showed us that life isn’t easy as a coffee grower here in Colombia. There are a lot of factors that are not in their favor, yet they continue producing coffee - it’s what they know. Hopefully, with continued opportunities to grow high-quality coffee, producers can keep improving their crops and gain better prices for their hard work and dedication.
Matilde showing us their drying beds
After leaving Matilde's farm we made our way back towards the city of La Unión, stopping at La Bohemia for dinner, but the tour would have to wait for Friday. More on that to come!
Thanks for following along,
Lead Roaster Emily