The year 2018 has seen many changes for the small town of Santa Maria, Huila. The local coffee association, La Victoria, teamed up with our importer to open the town's first buying station, the only one focused on quality and specialty coffee in the region. The station has quickly become a popular meeting place for association members and has a cupping lab “manned” by three women: Marcela, Tatjana and Laura. The village neighbors the town of Gaitania, the birth place of the infamous guerrilla group FARC. The region has always been a stronghold for the guerrillas during their 60 years of existence, making the town of Santa Maria virtually inaccessible for several decades. The civilian population suffered tremendously from the conflict, always being in the middle between the warring parties (guerrilla, para-military groups and the army). Only during the start of the peace negotiations around 5 years ago has the FARC pulled out and the town opened up, allowing for economic development. Because of the town's isolation, the National Coffee Federation never managed to implement its program of replacing all traditional coffee varieties with the new pest-resistant Castillo variety in Santa Maria. Therefore most farmers have mainly Caturra and many even have large plots of the original Typica variety, resulting in high scoring complex and sweet coffees in Santa Maria.
With the current international coffee price at an historic low, our importer has been able to pay farmers prices of up to double and almost triple of the commercial prices, guaranteeing them a more stable and sustainable income. The reason for this is that farmers are paid fixed prices based on cup score and prices don’t fluctuate with the New York C-Market. This is truly the only sustainable way of working with coffee, guaranteeing that producers can live a life with dignity, and securing supply of a quality product for the future.