The regional offerings of Colombia's coffee is ever increasing: Cauca, Nariño, Huila, Santander, Antioquia, Coffee Cultural Landscape (CCL) and Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta to name a few.
Sierra Nevada is a region, which by ancestral tradition of the indigenous communities that inhabit this region is closely linked to organic production.
This coffee has a pronounced aroma, high body, good grain size, low acidity, prominent notes of chocolate and roasted almonds and an ancestral way of cultivation. There is only one harvest a year, between October and December, which also gives it a limited edition character, considering that in the rest of the country two harvests per year are normal.
Unique coastal mountain range
Located in the north of Colombia, the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the highest coastal mountain range in the world. At 5,775 meters in height there are snowy peaks, and an UNESCO biosphere reserve.
The coffee divisions of Magdalena, Cesar and Guajira share this mountain range. Coffee here is usually grown at an altitude between 900 and 1,600 meters. The land in this strip is above 50 degrees of inclination and in some places reaches 80 degrees. The coffee is grown under a sea of tree shades, mainly guamos, chickadees, walnuts, avocados, fruit trees and native species.
The indigenous communities of Kogi, Arhuaco, Kankuamo and Wiwa inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta have been, since ancient times, living in harmony with nature. And the coffee growers continue that same tradition today, with very sustainable practices out of their own conviction.
Producing in harmony with nature
Oliver Villafaña a native from the Arhuaco people of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is part of the 778 farmers, mostly indigenous, which produce coffee organically. For these communities, organic coffee has become their lifestyle through a balanced production based on rational use of natural resources to ensure their long-term sustainability.
"The natives of the mountain range have a philosophy which is that in the cultivation of coffee they do not apply any synthetic product it must be grown naturally. In our daily life we live in harmony with nature and all living things, so we do not use any chemicals. Furthermore, we see that organic coffee has become a trend, but trends are not for us, this is something that we bring as a cultural tradition, because that's how our ancestors have taught us," he explains.
Thanks to this the Organic Coffee from this mountain range Sierra Nevada has become a benchmark from Colombia to the rest of the world. For the Indians of the Sierra Nevada, coffee can expand to various corners of the earth their philosophy of harmonious coexistence with nature.
"Coffee is the only product that allows us to have a stable economy.
Today coffee has become the wages of native people from
the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. "
Increasingly sustainable coffees
This cafe is included in the category of specialty coffees and has a growing demand for specialized buyers from countries such as Japan, South Korea, United States, Canada, Belgium, France and Germany, which have a growing organic culture and see in this coffee a differential exclusive attribute in terms of organic products.
Sales of sustainable Colombian coffees certified and/or verified increased 105% between 2006 and 2012. In 2013, the production of organic coffee in Colombia was 248,000 bags of 60 kilos each, of which 133,000 thousand bags were sold (54%), so their offer still has ample room to meet new customers.
Much of the organic coffee produced by the native communities of the Sierra Nevada is sold or exported directly to customers abroad, not always through the National Federation of Coffee Growers; the exportable supply is close to 58,000 bags of 60 kg, mainly to the United States, Canada and Europe.
Colombian coffee has managed to build and create long term business linkages between organic coffee growing communities, clients and consumers, focusing primarily on self-sustaining economic development and strengthening cultural producers, for this to translate into better income and welfare for themselves and their families.
"We market our coffee thinking clearly that it is a service to society and that gives us an added value; buyers are aware of what we're producing, which is totally organic, and that behind every coffee harvest there's a story. By explaining this, countries that are purchasing our product really understand what the organic product is all about and how their purchase supports indigenous communities and helps to improve the quality of life of each producer," says Villafana.
In addition, programs of organic and specialty coffee in the Sierra Madre have promoted partnership operations. In turn, the associations have strengthened their commitment to preserving the Sierra to venture into different schemes of sustainable production and Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, 4C, UTZ, and FLO (Organic).
The organic coffee from the Sierra Nevada is mostly marketed as Fair-Trade Organic (FTO), as most of the groups have both certifications and the trade demands that coffee. This dual certification also represents greater benefits for producer communities.
Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is another of the regional origins of Colombian coffee that is clearly distinct, with a major focus on sustainability, which will allow brands to expand their portfolio of products to the final consumer.