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Colombia - Tolima
For many years, Tolima has remained hidden in plain sight cradled between other well-known coffee growing regions because armed conflict and coca leaf production isolated small coffee producers and exposed them to high rates of violence. During this time the municipality of Planadas, located in the southernmost corner of Tolima, had remained an untapped source of specialty coffee where thousands of producers have been cultivating coffee on just a few acres of land inter-cropped with shade trees, bananas, corn, beans and sugarcane. This is one of those coffees!
Farm: Asociación de Productores Ecológicos de Planadas (ASOPEP)
Region: Planadas, Tolima, Colombia
Process: Fully washed and dried in the sun
Altitude:1400 - 2100 Meters
Certification: Naturally Grown and Fair Trade
This Colombia boasts some front end toasted sugar notes. It is sweet and savory with caramel, praline and citrus fruit flavors. It is mellow, refreshing and doesn't stick with your mouth for too long after you swallow. Super clean too.
As conflict has subsided in recent years, locally organized associations have taken the lead in creating market access for these producers. Established in 2013 with 165 producer-members Asociación de Productores Ecológicos de Planadas (ASOPEP) has focused on certifications and training producers in best organic practices. The cooperative has invested in basic infrastructure needs like road improvements, establishing local warehouses, creating micro-credit for producers and investing in social programs on a larger and more impactful scale, using the collective resources generated from the sale of coffee. Environmental training programs, healthcare initiatives, life insurance, and educational opportunities are just some of the ways the cooperative strives to improve the quality of life for coffee producers and their families. Producers carefully harvest and sort cherries before depulping, fermenting, washing, and drying the coffee using their own micro-mills.
Traceability and quality control throughout the post harvest process is also ensured because ASOPEP has a dry-mill facility and cupping lab where coffee is prepared for export. In addition to quality control, the cooperative’s cupping lab also serves as coffee and cacao school that has graduated 37 students including one alumni who participated as an international judge in the 2019 Colombian Cup of Excellence.