Hola amigos, we would like to give you an update from the other farm the TSU Field Barista project brought us. We are staying in a beautiful little village called Rosa Florida. The owner of the farm “San Miguel” is Hernando “Meko” Gutierrez. Meko has a beautiful farm and is a 4th generation coffee farmer, and he really understands what he is talking about. All the decisions on the farm are made by himself and his ‘right-hand’ Jon. For example the fermentation process, everything is all done by eye and on their own experience.
We will not be able to taste the new harvest at the time this article gets online but so far the quality of this years harvest seems great! Although Meko is a 4th generation farmer for over 35 years he is still really eager to learn from us. For example, we are now trying to make some natural coffees. The results will follow soon.
So far so good, but lets take a look on the other side of this great coffee! There are two major things we would like to bring forward. Let’s start with a well know fact:
1. Climate Change
Last year this region had a lot to suffer, especially from “Fenomeno Del Nino”. El Nino is a shifting period of almost no rain that occurs around every 7 years. Normally, in this time of the year, the coffee plants obtain water so they produce new leaves and flowers and become a healthy plant. This years “El Nino" was during the formation of flowers (a coffee plant first grows a blossom which transforms into a berry). Because of the low level of water, a lot of plants had a hard time opening and remaining the blossoms of coffee! This means that there is a really low amount of coffee that we can pick and an even lower income for the farmers. The flowers that survived the dry season produced beautiful, rich cherries. These are the cherries we are picking right now.
2. Low Wages
The other big problem is the amount of money pickers earn a day. For example, if you are a really good picker you will pick around 100 kilo’s of cherries a day. The pickers earn around €0.12 cents a kilo so that will make around € 12 a day! You can discuss if this is a good or bad salary (lets skip that part). But the reality is that for the next season a lot of pickers won't come back because another big Colombian industry (!) pays much better.
What does that mean? It means all kinds of things, but we can not let that happen! So our next few days in Colombia we have to find a way of not letting that happen. What if you have to pay a little extra for your coffee? So we can help out these hard working people in Colombia and they can invest in their future!
Apart from these problems, Colombia is great. We feel really welcome and especially Meko and his lovely wife Yolanda are taking real good care of us. And what to think of the food, the farmers and all the other people we meet, they are all amazing! Mostly they are really keen on showing us the world they are living in, to drink a cup of coffee with them or invite you to a local lunch.
We would definitely advise you to get over there and get your hands dirty. If you have any ideas please let us know so we can discuss them with the farmers over here. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org and / or email@example.com.