Pedro Echavarría is the founder of Pergamino Coffee, a roaster-retailer based in Medellín serving exceptional Colombian coffee. He’s also a green coffee exporter, building supply chains with producers throughout coffee growing regions and connecting them directly to roasters around the world.
However, Pedro and Pergamino did not start as coffee exporters, but as growers. As Pedro explains, “our father, Pedro Echavarria Sr, started to grow coffee on a small, abandoned farm in the 1970s. He developed his lifelong passion for coffee quickly, and expanded his company to the town of Santa Barbara, where our company now has most of its production capacity.”
Stumptown began working with Pedro in late 2015, bringing in our first lots in early 2016. Pergamino’s sourcing model represents supply chains in various departments throughout Colombia, which Pergamino calls their Allied Producer Program. Over the last six years, we’ve worked with Pergamino to build relationships in their Allied Producer Programs in Nariño, Antioquia, and Cauca.
Far exceeding his role as an exporter partner, Pedro manages Pergamino’s relationships with tremendous attention to quality, transparent price premium models for smallholders, and support for the communities he sources from. In 2018, with Pedro’s leadership, Stumptown co-funded the purchase of clean cooking stoves for smallholder producers in Nariño and Antioquia. And in late 2021, Pedro came to us with a proposal for the construction and launch of an organic fertilizers project in Inzá, Cauca, for the producer community contributing to our organic certified lots. Stumptown helped fund this initiative earlier this year.
Since our early days working with Pedro, he’s been passionate about a very interesting, somewhat mysterious variety first found in his home department of Antioquia, called Chiroso.
“This variety was originally found in the town of Urrao, grown by Jose Arcadio Caro, our first allied producer in the area,” Pedro explains. “He planted a variety that was growing popular, not because of its great cup profile, which was yet to be discovered, but because of its high productivity in cold temperatures.”
The variety became more broadly known in 2014 when several producers in Urrao placed in the top 10 at the Cup of Excellence, Colombia, with Chiroso lots – including first place.
Over the years, some of us on the green coffee team at Stumptown have tasted samples of this intriguing variety, marveling at its elegance: complex acidity, citrus, and ripe fruit, and floral notes that remind us of coffees from Ethiopia. But because Chiroso is somewhat new and coffee plants take up to four years to produce fruit, we haven't had the opportunity to get our hands on a sizable amount, until now.
The genetics of the variety have also been a bit of a question until recently. Originally, Pedro explains, “the short variety was called in the region Caturra Chiroso, for its similarity with normal Caturra, while the taller trees mixed in between every so often were called Bourbon by farmers. However, we now know this variety is directly connected to pure landrace Ethiopian varieties and has no relation to Caturra or Bourbons.
In the last few years, more producers have begun to try the variety out on their farms – including Pedro and his family’s farm, Lomaverde. “Lomaverde has been the heart of our coffee growing operation since we purchased it in the early ‘90s. With beautiful soils, it is incredibly productive at high altitudes. On the farm and in our family business, we try to find a balance between tradition and innovation, always with respect for our community and natural surroundings.”
Pedro explains, “When planting Chiroso in Lomaverde, we did so with seeds that came from the farms in Urrao that had provided us with the most beautiful coffees.”
We’ve kept an eye on Chiroso over the years, patiently waiting for an opportunity to pick up this unique coffee and share it with our customers. When Pedro mentioned there might be a lot available from his family’s farm this harvest season, we jumped at the chance.
We’re thrilled to offer this micro lot on our menu, highlighting Pedro and the Echavarría family, and the opportunity to celebrate their inspiring work for specialty coffee in Colombia.
*All Lomaverde location photos courtesy of Pergamino.