Colombia Nariño Borderlands

This NGO-led project helps small coffee farmers grow and process, while also improving agronomy and business practices.

Year founded

2013

Partnered with Stumptown

2013

Varieties

Caturra, Colombia, Castillo, Yellow Maragogype

On our menu

Nariño Borderlands

Processing technique

Washed

What's new

Many of the farmers from this region are newer to coffee and have devoted themselves to the crop in exchange for income security. Borderlands continues to shine as a wildly successful project which has supported and empowered the community which in turn continues to produce beautiful and sustainable coffee.

The Producer

The Nariño Borderlands Coffee Project was started in 2013 and aims to build relationships and empower local farmers to cultivate high quality coffee in the region. Borderlands plays an active part in teaching agronomy and processing techniques, while also offering business advice. Most of the farmers have very small plots of land and process in their own backyards.

The Nariño Borderlands Project helps farmers team up with third-wave coffee roasters like us. Because they can sell the coffee for so much more than before, many farmers are joining in this movement. Formerly displaced farmers are returning to their land, and they are banding together to become a farmer-led community organization. We’re proud to offer this selection from the Nariño Borderlands Coffee Project.

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The Place

The department of Nariño is about as far west as you can get in Colombia, and borders Ecuador and the Pacific ocean. In this rugged landscape the Andes stretch up around verdant valleys marked by a patchwork of farms: light green panela cane and corn fields, yellow-brown wheat, and deep green coffee in every direction. Historically, the most significant products from the area were corn, beans, and wheat, but in recent years all of these have become available as imported products in Colombia, at cheaper prices. As a result, many people in Nariño started planting coffee as an alternative because of the relative income security it provides. The intentionality of these newer coffee farms is notable: many of the plots sit next to people’s homes, perfectly arranged gardens.

The Nariño Borderlands Coffee Project began in 2013 as a way to empower local farmers, encourage quality coffee cultivation and improve livelihoods in Nariño through relationships. The project supports smallholder farmers with information on best practices of agronomy, processing, business management and savings. Historically, Nariño’s farmers sold everything to two large buyers at a baseline price. The new system rewards quality with price premiums. Logistics in the area have remained complicated due to illicit agriculture, armed conflict, displacement and mining interests. Due to these factors, developing coffee as a sustainable means to make a living is timely.

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The Process

The Nariño Borderlands Project is actively involved in helping farmers team up with third-wave coffee roasters like us. Because they can sell the coffee for so much more than before, many farmers are joining in this movement. Formerly displaced farmers are returning to their land, and they are banding together to become a farmer-led community organization.

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More Details

We’re proud to offer this selection from Nariño Borderlands Coffee Project. As we hoped, we’re already seeing improved coffee quality inspired by the developing Direct Trade relationship with an incentive based program that encourages an emphasis on quality.

Corona Zambrano cultivates her Yellow Maragogype, an extremely rare coffee variety on her farm, La Primavera, in the Linares community in Nariño. When we visited Nariño, we went to her farm, tasted her Yellow Maragogype and knew we had to share it. In addition to cultivating delicious coffee, Corona also provides leadership in the community. She works with the community’s agronomy secondary and high school. She also gives her unique coffee varieties to the school’s test garden.

The Nariño Borderlands Coffee Project began in 2013 as a way to empower local farmers, encourage quality coffee cultivation and improve livelihoods in Nariño through relationships built upon mutual commitment to quality. The project supports small holder farmers with information on best practices of agronomy, processing, business management and savings. Historically, Nariño’s farmers sold everything to two large buyers at a baseline price, with no rewards for quality. This project sets aside quality coffee in separate lots prior to combining the rest of the coffee into a bulk offering. Their system rewards quality with price premiums which encourage quality. Logistics in the area have remained complicated due to illicit agriculture, armed conflict, displacement and mining interests. Due to these factors, developing coffee as a sustainable means to make a living is timely.

Although the project progressed on a planned washing station, bureaucratic concerns slowed it down. The plans for the station, created with students from the local university, have been completed. We’re stoked to see that they intend to include separate tanks to experiment with processing techniques and further innovation. They will also create a raised bed drying system with fans and other innovations.