El Carmen Ground Coffee - Colombia (250g)
PRODUCER: Red Associations El Carmen
REGION: Pitalito, Huila
VARIETY: Caturra, Castillo
ALTITUDE: 1400-2100 MASL
TASTING NOTES: Cherry - Brown Sugar - Rich
In May 2017, Raw Material met with two coffee producer groups in Pitalito, Huila, to understand what is preventing farmers from accessing the specialty market. These groups represent almost 300 families, around660Ha of coffee farmland, and around 1 million kg of coffee (parchment) production each year. Despite good production levels, income from coffee for these families dropped to unsustainable levels in the past few years. They face a crossroad; either find alternative means of income outside coffee, or find a more stable and sustainable market. During these discussions we heard farmers describe their core challenges: a lack of key infrastructure; and lack of stable prices to provide certainty for investment in improved quality. Together, we also uncovered a wide gap between how coffee quality is discussed and measured at the farm level compared with the roasting end of the value chain. To address these challenges, we launched the
Red Associations. With the new infrastructure in place, we are able to pay individual farmers a minimum fixed price of 1M COP/carga of dry parchment coffee they produce through a community lot. This price results in double the household income of a typical coffee producing family, compared with the average income in the regular market over the past 5 years. Once the new infrastructure is built, fixed price payments can get directly to producers through a transparent system. The goal is to achieve stable and sustainable prices for community coffee lots through improved quality control, shared knowledge, and a connection to the specialty coffee market. Red in Spanish means network, representing the producers and roasters working together to create a sustainable value chain.
El Carmen is the first member of the Red Associations project, based in Pitalito, Huila. The Red Association in this region began with the creation of a drying hub, where producers from the local area could dry their harvest without the risk of rainfall rinsing away their profits.
Previously, producers had to sell their parchment wet, through an intermediary who would dry on their behalf. This meant that this vital step was out of the producer’s control, which in turn meant they could only capture a portion of the potential return for their harvest.