Colombian Coffee

Colombian coffee thanks to Juan Valdez is known as “The Richest Coffee in the World”.  How did Colombia become one of the world’s largest producers of coffee?  What makes Amrita Certified Pure Colombian Santander Mesa de Los Santos so special?  In this blog we will explore the history of Colombian coffee and Mesa de Los Santos.

No one knows for sure how coffee arrived in Colombia.  Many believe Jesuit Priests introduced coffee to Colombia in the mid 16th century.  It wasn’t until 1808 when the first commercial production of coffee began.  In 1835 was the first time coffee was exported to the US.  By 1860 coffee was the dominant crop in Colombia.

Coffee production in Colombia did not come by easily.  Even though Colombia with its three Andes Caldileras (mountain ranges) provide ideal growing conditions for growing coffee, farmers had to be encouraged to plant coffee trees.  With a five year lapse between planting and first harvest farmers quickly gave up on the notion of becoming a coffee farm.  It wasn’t until a priest Francisco Romero during confessions started offering penance by requiring the sinner to plant 3 coffee trees.    These plantings helped propelled Colombia to the second largest producer of coffee in the world up until the late 1990’s.  Today Colombia is the world’s third largest producer of coffee and the largest producer of quality Arabica coffee.

Farmer and FNC Field Technician

One of many weather stations build by the FNC to aid farmers

Colombian has a strong coffee infrastructure that was created by coffee growers in 1927.  The growers created the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia (FNC), National Coffee Federation of Colombia.  The purpose was to represent the growers both nationally and internationally, defend grower’s rights and seek ways to improve their quality of life.  Today the FNC guarantees growers a fair and transparent price for their coffee, technical field assistance, carry out programs that positively impact coffee farms, communities and the environment, and an international marketing program to promote Colombian Coffee.  The FNC projects in Colombia’s rural areas improve community and domestic infrastructure as well as offering credit access and social programs, healthcare, education, food aid programs, and transportation.  FNC is the sponsor of the Cup of Excellence program which recognizes outstanding coffees where the winning farmers are awarded high auction prices for their coffee.   With over 540,000 member growers the FNC is one of the world’s most successful NGO not for profit organizations.

Judging coffee at Cup of Excellence Colombia 2007

Juan Valdez Cafe in Bogota

Juan Valdez was created to promote Colombian coffee in 1959.  Today the majority of international coffee consumers associate Juan Valdez and his donkey Conchita with “The World’s Richest Coffee”.  The messaging of quality coffee in from Colombia was enhanced in 1995 with the labeling of specialty Coffees of Colombian and recognition of the unique flavor profiles from different regions in Colombia.

It was in 1995 that Anne Valdez, President of Amrita Certified Pure was first introduced to Colombian Mesa de los Santos Coffee.  Anne had the honor of tasting the coffee with Oswaldo Acevedo the owner of Colombia Mesa de Los Santos farm.  Today the aromatic, chocolaty coffee with an apple acidity is still and perfectly balance coffees is one of Anne’s favorite coffees.

 

Crimson-backed Tanager found at the Mesa de los Santos Estate

This stunning estate is home to migratory birds and a sanctuary for wildlife.  Over 145 different bird species have been identified on the estate by the Smithsonian Migratory Institutes. The coffee is grown under a canopy of native shade trees.  Portions of the estate are undeveloped and left in as a natural tropical forest.   Coffee is grown in harmony and sustainably with nature

The quality of the coffee continues to be worthy of the “Table of the Saints” over 175 years after it’s founding.  The  coffee  was first tasted by Amrita Certified Pure®’s president Anne Valdez in 1995 is still just as good and memorable today has it was in 1995.

The 800 acre estate founded in 1840 was named La Mesa de Los Santos by the founder Telmo J. Dias after priests tasted the coffee and declared it to be so good that the coffee was worthy of being served at the “Table of the Saints”.  Telmo managed the estate with generosity, integrity and the search for perfection.

La Mesa de Los Santos

Fields at Mesa de los Santos

Today Telmo’s principles are carried out by his grandson Oswaldo Acevedo.  Oswaldo is a proponent of human welfare.  He pays his worker’s wages well above minimum wage, offers them free health care, education assistance for workers children, housing assistance, insurance for temporarily or permanent work disability and retirement pensions.  The farms organic practices protect the health of the workers and environment.

Clean Water

One of the definitions of Amrita is rejuvenating waters.  For the water to be rejuvenating, it needs to be pure and free of pollution.  As the Baxendales built Amrita Island, they built bath houses where one could recharge and refresh in the pure waters of Buzzards Bay.  While today, the Bay faces certain pollution threats, toxic pollution from legacy industries has become a relic of the past.   In recent years, the Buzzards Bay Coalition has spearheaded projects to raise awareness of cleaning the Bay and create events to educate adults and children on the importance of maintaining a pollution-free Bay.  These events bring participants up close with nature.

Amrita Certified Pure participated in the Buzzards Bay Swim event this past June by donating coffee for the swimmers and spectators.  The objective of the event

Coffee Service at Buzzards Bay Swim Event 2016

was to show how important it is to have clean water not only for swimmers but for the fauna and wildlife of the Cape.

The Cape is fortunate to have an organization like Buzzards Bay Coalition, with its vision for a clean and healthy bay where current generations and future generations can enjoy the water, fauna and wildlife that make the Cape so beautiful.   Today the Buzzards Bay Coalition has two learning visitor centers and four nature preserves (http://www.savebuzzardsbay.org/about-us/our-centers-reserves/)  where people can enjoy and learn about nature.  Unfortunately, this is not the case around the world including coffee producing countries.

Amrita Certified Pure® Coffee selects coffees that are grown in harmony with the environment and exhibit a high quality cup of coffee.  All of our coffees are grown organically.  By growing the coffee organically, there are no harmful chemical runoffs into nearby rivers.  Farm workers and wildlife are protected from harmful chemicals.

In addition to purchasing organically grown coffee, Amrita Certified Pure Coffee offers a variety of coffees that are

Rainforest Alliance Certified.  The Rainforest Alliance Certification ensures that crops are grown in a manner

Anne at the Lake on the Selva Negra Farm

that is in harmony with nature.  The Rainforest Alliance Certified™ seal means that the farmers follow more sustainable agricultural practices that protect forests, rivers, soils and wildlife, while being good community neighbors.  Rainforest Alliance certification also ensures that workers have just wages and improved access to dignified living conditions, health care and education for their children.  To learn more about the Rainforest Alliance, visit http://www.rainforest-alliance.org.

Blue Heron “Safe From Snares” Bridge Tower Amrita Island

Our Blue Heron Espresso from the Selva Negra in Nicaragua is named for the Blue Heron bird whose habitat can be found both at the farm and the Cape.  The bird was admired so much by the Baxendales that they carved images of the bird on the stone towers of the bridge leading to Amrita Island and on their home. The Baxendales made sure the Blue Heron was safe from snares.  The bird would not survive in either habitat without clean water.

I write this blog to show the deep appreciation I have for the work of Buzzards Bay Coalition, Selva Negra Farm and the

Trash in the water of the Sumidero Canyon in Mexico

Rainforest Alliance, especially after my recent trip to Mexico.  Cape Cod is very

Trash Sumidero Canyon Mexico

fortunate to have an organization like the Buzzards Bay Coalition to protect the waters and surrounding lands around the Cape.  In many coffee producing countries, the population needs to be educated in on preservation of the environment.  Trash is a major problem throughout the land and water in the producing countries.  It breaks my heart to see beautiful land and water marred by trash.

In my 30 years of working in coffee, I have seen vast improvements in environment preservation in coffee farms.  These improvements have been brought on by coffee roasters visiting farms and working with farmers and third party certifiers in improvements to the environment and sustainability.  When I arrive at a farm, within five minutes I can determine whether the farm is a Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farm or not.

Much of the improvement on coffee farms is in the manner of cleaning water after it has been used in processing coffee.  Farmers have learned how to use less

Water Filtration flow chart from the Selva Negra farm.

Filtration Ponds in Honduras. The final pond is a fish breeding tank.

water, filter the water and reuse the water on their farms.  During my first few visits to coffee farms, the dirty water from the fermentation tanks was dumped in nearby streams and rivers.  In recent years, every farm  with a wet mill has a water filtration program.

Clean water is vital for the survival of wildlife, fauna and mankind.  We all must work together to make sure this

valuable resource is preserved for future generations.  Every part of our lives is affected by the way we treat the water.  We are proud to support the work of Buzzards Bay Coalition, The Rainforest Alliance and all the farms where we purchase coffee in preserving clean water.

I end this blog with some natural water falls found on my trips to coffee growing countries. One image is from the Sumidero Canyon in Mexico.  The other

Sumidero Canyon Christmas Tree waterfall Mexico

three of the falls are found on coffee farms where the farmer has we revitalized the falls through sustainable farming practices and preservation of natural habitats.

Waterfall Finca Santa Isabel Honduras

Waterfall Limoncillo Farm  Nicaragua

Waterfall Daterra Farm Brazil