Meet Our Farmers

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27 | El Retorno

Flor Zapata

El Retorno has been home to Flor and her husband, Joaquín, for over twenty years. They now work the farm with their three children. For many years, they were under the impression that the high elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level was not conducive to coffee. After learning about neighboring farms with good yields on production, Flor decided to give coffee a try 5 years ago. At just two hectares, El Retorno is a small enough farm that the family can manage all the stages of production themselves. This allows for the quality control necessary to produce specialty coffee. They also have long term plans in effect to improve their beneficios for washing the coffee and build new drying beds.

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28 | La Paloma

Alfredo Piedrahita

Growing up at El Chupadero, Alfredo inherited his father’s passion for coffee. When the time came to purchase his own land, he chose to stay in the area known for its unique, fertile soil. However, his 18 years at La Paloma are not something to be taken for granted. In 2000, illegal groups came to the area. They killed several people including one of his brothers and one of his cousins. After enduring these hardships, there was hope of stability in the Colombian government’s peace treaty with the FARC. Unfortunately, different illegal groups are still interested in the illicit enterprises left behind in the wake of this treaty. 

We are particularly proud of the relationships developed around this coffee. For the fifth year in a row, the same roaster has purchased this lot. Alfredo works hard to continually provide a great product and the customers know who they are supporting and where their coffee is from. We love being able to bring people together over a cup of coffee.

Last year we had the opportunity of introducing Alfredo to the roaster that has been buying his coffee. Unfortunately we were unable to make it to La Paloma due to security concerns, but we arranged for a meeting in the town of Ituango. We had the opportunity to share and enjoy his excellent coffee with all the people that make it possible. It was a memorable cup of coffee!

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29 | El Dragal

Efrain Espinal

Coffee has been a part of Efrain's life since day one. He grew up on the family farm, absorbing all of his father's knowledge. He learned that while hard work and proper technique are mandatory, the right location is also a critical component to producing excellent coffee. Efrain knew he wanted to stay in Ituango to reap the benefits of high elevation and fertile soil. He purchased El Dragal seventeen years ago to put his coffee skills to work in an ideal location.

While this seems like an easy decision, Efrain and other members of the community have suffered through violence and turmoil at the hands of illegal groups for the past twenty years. These groups make coffee production even harder than it already is, sometimes even displacing families from their farms. Efrain and his family suffered this fate at times but still persist. He is optimistic about the future and describes the coffee lifestyle as "a beautiful profession."

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30 | El Edén

Francisco Giraldo

Our strong relationship with Francisco has helped us work through some particularly challenging times over the past two years. A resurgence of activity among illegal paramilitary groups in the area had a direct impact on the farmers and their families. With multiple displacements during the harvest, Francisco and his wife, Amparo, were forced to leave cherries in the fields, pack their belongings, and move the family to the nearest town in search of safety.

Francisco continues to look towards the future and it does not surprise us that he remains so dedicated in the face of adversity. He has lived through many years of armed conflict and fell victim to a landmine himself in 2009. Lucky to escape with his life, he lost one eye as well as his sense of taste and smell. However, his dedication to his coffee never faltered. He grew up working with coffee alongside his father at El Edén and chose to continue the legacy after his father passed away.

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31 | El Arrayan

Jhon Valencia

One of Finca El Arrayan's greatest assets is it's location - high altitude, volcanic soil, ideal microclimate. Unfortunately, the farm's greatest weakness is also it's location - previously a FARC stronghold, Ituango is now caught in the post-conflict crosshairs. While the peace treaty brought an agreement between the government and FARC, it has opened the door for new armed groups to move in, each vying for a slice of the illicit enterprise left behind. People now live with a bag packed, ready to leave on short notice, and there have already been a few displacements in the last two years. Jhon is no stranger to the turbulence of the area. Like many others, his family fell victim to the decades of violence with two of his brothers being kidnapped, one of them being killed. He persisted then and continues to now. Watching the strength and tenacity of Jhon and other farmers in this region has us more committed than ever, regardless of the challenges.

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32 | El Rosario

Cesar Zuleta

Cesar grew up at El Rosario learning everything about coffee from his father. When his parents decided to move to the city he stayed behind, taking over the farm. While he has built a life with his wife and three children in Ituango, remaining at the farm has not been an easy choice. The region has suffered from violence at the hands of illegal groups for decades and Cesar's community is no exception. Over the years, he has lost friends and family members and considers himself lucky to have only been displaced from his farm a few times. Regardless of the situation, Cesar is working hard to improve every day. He is invested in his coffee and continues planning for the future, planting new coffee varieties this year and improving his beneficios. This level of commitment combined with the fertile soil and microclimate El Rosario has to offer is a recipe for great coffee.

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