RNY On Location: Sourcing Coffee from Colombia

This past February, RNY’s Mike Ward & Camilo Yubank had the opportunity to travel to Colombia! In this second half of our two-part Colombia origin series, Camilo provides insight into our partnership with Pergamino, working with the Pillimue family, and sustaining coffee farms in the area. Read until the end for a sneak peak of what coffee from Colombia we sourced during this trip!

Empowering Coffee Farmers from Colombia

In 2015, we visited the community of Inza in the Cauca State for the first time with Pedro Echavarria and Leo Henao from Pergamino Café. This visit was a significant step in our partnership as we started working together to empower small farmers in remote parts of Colombia. Even though these farmers produced high quality coffees, they didn’t have access to international markets or better coffee premiums. Thankfully, we were able to start changing that through our joint effort with Pergamino.

The Pergamino Buying Model

While in Inza, we started working with the Pillimue family, led by Dona Rosa Alba. Under their matriarch’s leadership, the family organized a group of small producers from surrounding communities that were then invited to bring their coffee to Pergamino for evaluation. Along with the Pillimue family, these community members participated in an evaluation and selection process with the QC team at Pergamino, marking the implementation of the innovative Pergamino buying model. If the QC team determined a coffee qualified to be a specialty lot, then the producer would be paid at least 40% above the internal market price. Moreover, a second premium would be paid if the coffee were later sold as a micro lot on the international market.

However, the internal market operates on the premise of purchasing coffee based solely on the evaluation of parchment at buying warehouses across the coffee regions. This meant that the Pergamino buying model was unheard of in its early stages. Even so, the first year of this model proved to be a success! Word spread throughout all of Inza, opening the door to a wide array of new producers and great coffees.

producer in front of coffee from colombia

Our Impact on Coffee from Colombia

Despite market challenges, lockdowns from COVID-19, and the increasing social unrest and insecurity in parts of Cauca, our partnership with Pergamino remains strong. We continue to outsource coffee from new producers as well as many of the farmers who were part of the program in the beginning. Year after year, we have paid 45% of the Fair Trade Minimum price, and we have certified many farms in the region as organic. Beyond money, supporting farms means providing technical support and assistance to produce coffee in a more economical and environmentally friendly way.

Sustaining these farms is about more than just constantly producing coffees. It’s about buying, selling, and growing together in mutually beneficial relationships. As always, we are so thankful for the opportunity to work with Pergamino, the Pillimue family in Inza, and for all of the roasters that have continuously supported these programs over the years.

Upcoming Arrivals from Colombia

We have sourced some coffees from our most recent trip that will soon be available to you! Preview these upcoming arrivals and browse current offerings from Colombia. Join us in another year to ensure that sustainability is not only a catchphrase.

Organic Colombia Cauca Perla de Inza

Preview RNY # 56492

In Inza, small producers tend to their land and hold onto their traditions. Many of them have produced coffee with little or no chemicals for generations. Apart from producing this washed lot, the Pillimue family helped establish the Pergamino buying model in their community. They also led a program to certify 80 farmers in Inza as organic producers. This small group of producers became leaders in innovate organic practices. They lead workshops in the community on reusing farm waste to make inexpensive, yet incredibly useful, bio fertilizers.

Colombia Excelso Paez-Angel Ariza

Preview RNY # 56497

This washed lot comes to us from Ángel Ariza, a producer from the department of Cauca. Originally from San Antonio, Ángel and his wife faced a scarcity of arable land. To support their daughter and embark on a new journey, they made the difficult choice to leave their native land and move to Riochiquito, a town three hours away. It was there that they bought a 14-hectare piece of land at a reasonable price to build their dream: Finca Buena Vista.

Grown at approximately 1800masl, this coffee is washed, fermented for 72 hours, and dried under the sun to create a truly exceptional lot. Therefore, when Ángel heard about the rise of the specialty coffee market in San Antonio, he knew he had to contribute. His wife, Lorena Pillimue, is a member of the family that helped established the Pergamino buying model in Inza. Since they have many connections in the community, Ángel, his father-in-law, and some of the producers aided by the Pillimue family began consolidating coffee shipments to reduce transportation costs created by the distance between towns. This initiative not only benefited the producers but contributed to strengthening the region’s entire coffee community.

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