El Jordan is a group of farmers who have partnered together to educate each other and raise the overall level of quality possible from Colombia’s Tolima region
Partnered with Stumptown
Caturra, Colombia, Bourbon, Typica
This year, some of the producers purchased new land and updated their fermentation tanks, continuing to show their dedication to quality coffee and their community.
The farmers that make up this group are intensely entrepreneurial. Together, they had a vision of elevating the quality of coffee in the region, and we’ve seen them truly succeed in the decade we’ve been working together.
A non-profit project called Las Mingas has helped the producers maximize the potential of their coffee through education and training. Stumptown gets to have the first look at their coffee, and we snap up the top lots — in exchange, we have signed long-term contracts that ensure stability for all the members of the co-op.
The Tolima region isn’t easy to get to. Once you’re in Bogotá, you still have a short flight to the city of Neiva, then a seven hour van ride. Along the way, you’ll cross the Río Magdalena then wind slowly up the mountains until you get to the town of Planadas.
Although this beautiful and remote area is more known for conflict and guerrilla activity, specialty coffee production is helping to change that image and reality.
Located in the shadow of the Nevado del Huila volcano, which is more than 17,000 feet high, the surrounding area is among the most fertile in Colombia and provides an excellent microclimate for growing coffee.
The farms are small — averaging three hectares — but the producers in the group have seen firsthand the benefits of top-quality specialty coffee.
The coffee pickers get paid higher premiums in return for perfectly ripe coffee. Then, it’s time for natural fermentation in tanks before washing and drying. The end result is incredibly balanced, well-structured coffee with flavors of apples, cinnamon, tangerine, honey and vanilla.
A project called Las Mingas which started in 2003 has helped these producers maximize the potential of their coffee through education and training. It has allowed Stumptown the opportunity to have the first look at the top coffees, while the rest is bulked together and sold as a group. In 2013, they began using their new warehouse in Planadas to receive and evaluate the coffee as it is harvested and prepared. Since coffee has recently become economically viable, an unusually high percentage of young farmers produce high quality coffee in the remote, rugged, war-torn region of Planadas de Tolima.
Stumptown remains the only buyer in the area who maintains traceability of coffee, fixed price agreements and incentives with long term, multiple year contracts in an effort to bring security and stability to the farmers. A heavy military presence still exists in Tolima, but the people are ready to see the end of the conflict and transition to a less volatile and more secure situation. Coffee helps. Each year, more local farmers see the benefits of Direct Trade and decide to pursue quality coffee. The quality continues to improve as more folks emulate the way the original farmers involved process their coffee.
The newer farmers in the group made investments in their infrastructure to accomplish their goals. They began to pre-dry their parchment and built covered, raised beds to ensure the parchment dries evenly for a consistent cup despite Gaitania’s frequent wet and humid weather. They retiled their tanks to provide a better environment for controlled fermentation. Some of them also replaced older depulpers and invested in plant nutrition while learning to combat cycles of leaf rust. They rely on the full cupping lab installed in Gaitania in 2009 to cup and analyze each lot of coffee which encourages instant feedback and quality improvements.