This coffee was produced by six smallholder farmers from the area around the town of Buesaco in Eastern Nariño, Colombia. The contributing producers, like most in the region, own very small farms – averaging just 1.5 hectares in size – across an elevation of 1,800 – 2,200m above sea level. Surrounded by incredible native vegetation, the town of Buesaco is a stunning example of Nariño’s astonishing landscape.
For a long period in the 1990s and early 2000s, Buesaco was hit incredibly hard by violence and civil unrest, with much of the region under the control of the FARC guerrillas. The high elevations and rugged terrain of rural Nariño was ideal for growing opium poppy plants and coca, making it the perfect centre of operations for illegal groups and preventing a heavy government presence. It wasn’t until the 2010s that guerrillas were forced out of Buesaco, catalysing the transformation of the town into one of Colombia’s best-regarded coffee-growing regions.
Since then, many coffees grown here have performed exceptionally well in Colombia’s Cup of Excellence competition. The consistency of these results demonstrated to many growers that coffee from this region has the potential to be sold specialty lots to the international market, warranting greater premiums than they were receiving through other certification schemes.
Today, specialty coffee plays an important role in Buesaco’s prosperity and in the community’s pursuit of a peaceful future. Most of the region’s specialty-focused farmers began focusing on quality in 2013, when a small group of 17 growers got together and formed the first regional association, called Grupo Empresarial Buesaco. With the assistance of the local technical school, group members organised themselves into a small operation with the aim of buying, warehousing and commercialising exceptional coffee lots. The association grew very quickly and within four years had to form an offshoot group, Alianza Café, to focus primarily on specialty-grade coffee. Its members are committed to running the association with transparent practices, to achieve the final goal of improving incomes for the nearly 400 growers that participate in their programs. Through Alianza Café, our Colombian export partner Pergamino met a number of farmers who are now part of their Allied Producer Program, and with whom they continue to work directly.
Buesaco is the traditional land of the Quillasingas, a people with a long and proud history of agriculture. While few of their population survived the brutal Spanish invasion of Nariño, their cultural heritage still lives on in the sustainable agricultural practices the region’s farmers employ. These learnings are first passed on at home, where each family carefully tends to a chagra, or patch of land dedicated to cultivation. Here, family elders share their knowledge on the making and implementation of organic fertilisers, seed propagation and herbal medicine—which have all contributed to the region’s reforestation efforts.
Responsibly sourced by the excellent team at Melbourne Coffee Merchants.