Colombia Day 2-
I love waking up to the roaring Cauca River in Salgar in the mornings. Today is Saturday, the big market day for coffee growing communities. Saturday is the main day that producers will come into town, sell coffee, cash their checks, and do the week’s shopping. There are some vendors who sell veggies, artisanal goods, and household items, but this tradition is not as strong in the southern regions of Antioquia. Part of the reason is that if you do not have your own car it is really expensive to take the goods that you buy in town up to your farm. In any case, the town was bustling and Gerardo, Ana, David and I got up early to participate in the goings on around town.
We first joined the agronomists at the Salgar purchase point for the cooperative. The harvest is winding down, and there is not as much coffee as there was a few months ago, nevertheless I ran into many familiar faces from our group trainings. There was a posted board with prices of the day, and Farmer Brothers was listed as a price alongside conventional, rainforest, CAFÉ practices, and UTZ coffees. It was a real thrill to see our program listed up there along with the others! During the morning we were able to see a couple of Farmer Brothers producers sell their coffee, and the purchasing manager walked us through how these coffees are registered and separated out by farmer. When the farmer arrives he presents his Farmer Brothers ID card along with his national ID card, which have to match up. From there a quality analysis is taken and if the coffee is acceptable for the Farmer Brothers standard, this coffee is purchased at the FB price. The volume that the producer brought in that day is logged in the cooperatives SAP system, which is used to pay out the quarterly price premium to each farmer. It was a real thrill to watch this happen at the purchase point. The cooperative was also distributing checks to the producers from last quarter’s price premiums, and we were able to see a couple of producers pick up their checks from this as well. Overall, the system was impressive to observe. There is a lot of care put into the transparency of the coffees is outstanding, and seeing Farmer Brothers program be represented as much as it was made me very proud!
From the purchase point we all headed down to the dry mill to see how DT coffees are separated, milled, bagged and cupped. FB volume is a good percentage of the coffee that Salgar’s mill produces, and because of this there is a dedicated silo for these coffees. When coffee needs to be milled, bags of parchment are dumped into the silo and coffee is processed at a rate of about 3 containers per day. Expocafe has a full time cupper on staff at the co-op, who cups through groups of 100 bags at a time to make sure that we are meeting the required cup profile and identifying any defects that may come through. Up through now, we have not had to reject any container of DT because of any defects, which is a direct result of the care put in at the mill level to ensure quality at every step.
Since we were at the mill, we had to cup some coffees, of course. And then we had to hit the road! I was honored to introduce this program to Gerardo and David, and I am excited to see what they can do with all of this new information bouncing around in their brains! Hasta la proxima!