The concept behind this coffee is to acknowledge the importance and value of the largely unappreciated players in the coffee supply chain, coffee pickers. Pickers play an important role in producing great coffees, yet they are commonly some of the most vulnerable people in the coffee supply chain. In Colombia the labour of a coffee picker is dangerous and intensive and they are paid wages that do not justify the work involved. In addition to this they very rarely get access to basic benefits such as health care and pension payments. We see in Colombia that coffee pickers are becoming scarce with many pickers leaving this work for better alternatives.

This program is a collaboration between us, our export partners, and the local cooperative. As buyers we commit to pay a premium for these coffees to cover the additional costs of fair wages and health and pension benefits for the pickers. The cooperative is in charge of training the pickers and identifying farms to participate in the project. This concept will both promote integrity in what we pay for coffees through the supply chain and in addition should result in better quality coffees due to better cherry selection.

This lot is made up of coffees contributed by 15 small farmers in Nariño, below you can see the weight in parchment and the name of each farmer contributing. This group of farmers have all undergone the training to be pickers for this program, and they are all picking their own and each others’ coffee according to strict requirements of only adequately ripe cherry.

By buying this coffee you are ensuring the pickers get a fair salary along with legally mandated health care and pension payments, as well as paying the farmers a price that allows them to live and continue producing coffee.

In 2018 the breakdown of contributions to the blend from farmers in the project was as follows:
Claudio Horacio Tejada Nandar – 2%
Jesus Alirio De La Cruz Tejada – 9%
Lauro Fernando Burbano Chaves – 9%
Mirian Mercedes De La Cruz Tejada – 3%
Jose Vicente Burbano Chaves – 9%
Jose Emilio Burbano Yaluzan – 1%
Nelson Antonio Chaves Burbano – 5%
Angel Maria De La Cruz Tejada – 6%
Gladis Beatriz Chavez Lasso – 15%
Pedro Alfonso De La Cruz Tejada – 3%
Carlos Efrain Cortes – 14%
Carlos Alfredo Burbano Chavez – 10%
Bernardo Chavez Rosero – 3%
Olmedo Celestino Chaves Lasso – 10%
Jose Macerio Paz – 2%
Harvest and cherry selection Coffee cherries are harvested by pickers who have been trained by the local cooperative to select only ripe cherries. These pickers are paid a fair wage, and also provided with legally mandated health and pension benefits that are not usually afforded to pickers in Colombia. 
Processing The coffee from Nariño is generally fully washed, meaning pulped and fermented the traditional way. There are a few exceptions where farmers are using eco-pulpers with mechanical removal of mucilage, and some are processing honeys, but it’s still not very common.
Dry Fermentation This is the most widely used method. The farmer will have a small beneficio, a small manual or electric pulper and a fermentation tank. They pulp the cherries in the afternoon then send the coffee directly to the fermentation tank. It can sit there from one to two days, depending on the temperature. Higher temperatures will speed up the fermentation process, and lower temperatures will slow it down. Some producers do intermediate rinsing with water, that can also help them control the process.
Washing and grading The pulped coffee is stirred in tanks or small channels before they remove the floaters. Producers without channels commonly wash the coffees in the fermentation tank and skim off the floaters before sending the coffee to dry.
Soaked under clean water Parchment is then soaked in tanks in clean water for 6-12 hours before it is moved to the drying tables.
Drying For the smallholders in regions like Nariño the coffees are commonly sun-dried in parabolic dryers that almost work like green houses. The better producers have well ventilated facilities. There are many different variations and constructions, but generally they are all systems designed to protect the coffee from rain. We have found that the producers whose dryers have good ventilation and can reach the desired 11% humidity in 10 to 18 days tend to produce consistently good coffees. By receiving premium payments, the producers can improve their facilities, building new dryers or renovating existing facilities to increase ventilation, and potentially adding shade nets to slow the drying process. These changes can improve both quality and longevity.  

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