The Life Work of Many Small Farmers
The Andes Mountains of Colombia with their mild temperatures, fertile soils and heavy rainfall are ideal for the cultivation of Arabica, the most flavorful and aromatic variety of coffee. The final ingredients are the patient, traditional ways of the cafetero, the Colombian coffee farmer. His coffee plantation averages less than 8 acres, and provides work for a whole family.
The unending cycle of Colombian coffee begins with the finest and most fertile beans, carefully selected and hand-potted in a shady corner of the plantation. From this nursery, trees are transferred to replace those that are damaged or have passed bearing age.
When the coffee berries ripen to their bright red color they must be harvested by hand, for on a given branch the berries ripen at different rates. No machine can replace the eye and hand of the coffee farmer in this task. It is a source of great pride and responsibility for these men and their families. When these berries have had the pulp and the outer covering of the coffee bean removed, the bean with its mucilage is then fermented in water for at least one to two days and sometimes longer. After the fermentation process, the bean is then washed from its mucilage after it has released its aroma. They are then dried, placed in sacks, and carried to a local village where the grower trades with coffee buyers. The crop is graded and weighed, a deal is struck, and the grower returns to his land to begin the process again.
Colombia’s cafetero is the secret to the superb taste and aroma of our Colombian coffee. Remember him the next time you choose your coffee.