RNY Perspectives from a coffee farm in Colombia

If you ask around at the Royal New York office what the favorite part of being a coffee trader is, one of the most prominent answers is likely the travel to origin. Travel that was once as frequent as 6x a year came to a grounding halt in March 2020 because of COVID-19. Now, 2+ years later, as travel restrictions lift, our team has ramped up traveling to many coffee farms yet again.

We recently sent a group, including CEO Jaime Schoenhut and Marketing Director Liz Weaver, on an origin trip to Colombia. Jaime is a seasoned coffee veteran with over 30 years experience and many trips to coffee farms under his belt. Liz, however, is new to the coffee industry, and this was her first time traveling to origin and coffee farms. Keep on reading for highlights of traveling to a coffee farm for veterans and newbies alike!

On the Coffee Farm…Again

It had been almost 3 years for me since I was on a coffee farm. I must say, after working in coffee for almost 30 years, it was probably the most anticipated trip I have had in a good while! After seeing a lot of our traders traveling back to origin over the last year, I was happy to join in on this trend.

Our first stop was in Ibague, where we have made some inroads over the years with our complex & flavorful Tolima offerings. We encountered a few producers that we have purchased from before, but also some new ones as well.

The trip tapped into more of a nostalgic experience for me. I found myself looking at this trip through the lens of a coffee newbie, making his first trip in the mid-90’s. So much has changed since then, and I’m so glad that it has. What was once the custom to go home with green samples, or have them sent, is now replaced with onsite analysis & cupping. This speeds up the process by leaps and bounds. Cupping alongside producers, many of whom have experience or are even Q-certified, is par for the course these days. The evolution of the different varieties and cultivars, along with the processing of coffee, are probably the most notable changes, especially in the western hemisphere. Back in the mid-90s, virtually all coffees in Latin America were fully-washed!

Talk of new varieties/cultivars, pulp natural, semi-wash, naturals, anaerobic, double-anaerobic, etc. just started to grow some steam in the early 2000s. These coffees have created exciting fruity coffees while commanding higher than normal premiums for the producers. A sustainable win-win formula!

On the Coffee Farm… for the first time

After joining Royal New York in July 2021, I jumped at the opportunity to travel to origin and visit a coffee farm just a year later. I have immersed myself in all things coffee since I began at Royal and have learned so much. However, I knew nothing would compare to having my hiking boots on the ground and seeing everything at origin myself.

Looking back at my trip, one thing I can say for certain is that I will never take my cup of coffee for granted again. Seeing the remote, high altitude locations where the coffee cherry originates put things in perspective. Our small group of 4 people from RNY encountered many challenges traveling throughout the region. A round-trip flight to Bogota and an impassable mud road on the side of a mountain cliff were the highlights. I can only imagine the challenges farmers run into transporting hundreds of bags of coffee cherries!

These coffee farmers surely encounter their share of challenges. However, it was inspiring to meet them and see their positivity and passion for specialty coffee firsthand. Every farm we visited welcomed us with open arms. They toured us around their coffee farms and talked about improvements they’re making and new varieties or processing methods they’re experimenting with. I can’t wait to share all of their stories with you in more detail, stay tuned!

Coffee from Colombia Available Now

After all this talk about exciting fresh coffees from Colombia, we thought you want to see what’s currently available.

Shop Colombia Fresh Arrivals