COFFEE FARMER IN COLOMBIAN CAUCA
Have you ever wondered what your coffee looks like before ending up in your cup? I actually hadn’t, which is why I was truly mesmerized when I received a fresh coffee twig in my hand in Cauca, Colombia, for the first time. And now I find the drink even more wonderful than I had before.
How is coffee made?
In the Department of Cauca, between the cities of Popayán and Cali, I stayed for two nights with the family of Javier Tejada Castillo. The Tejada Castillo family are producers of organic coffee, who have their own plantations and who dry their coffee themselves. After that, the coffee is sold to cooperatives which deal with the national and international coffee trade. In this video, Javier explains (in Spanish) the process of coffee making in short.
The 8 steps of mature coffee
1. Picking of the mature fruits
2. Squeezing the seeds out of the fruits
3. First drying of the seeds
4. Washing of the seeds
5. Removing the dried shell of the seeds
6. Second drying of the seeds (around three days)
7. Toasting of the seeds
8. Grinding of the seeds
Cauca Department in short
Cauca is one of the most diverse departments of Colombia regarding its cultural heritage. It is a department which main income is agriculture, such as yucca, sugar cane, maize, coconut and coffee (and cocaine and marihuana in illegal trade). It is also a department which has throughout the years been very prone to conflicts between the landowners, the peasents and the guerrillas. Even Javier’s house still has visible damages due to armed conflicts, and all the bridges crossing the rivers nearby are constantly looked after by the military (as the bridges are the structures that the armed forces most wish to damage, especially during the harvest).
How I met Javier Tejada Castillo?
When in Popayán, I posted a video on my Facebook about me being there. My friend and fellow long-distance cyclist, Juan, saw it and told me he had stayed for a week nearby, helping a lovely family with their coffee production. This is already the second time Juan sends me a great contact on my travel, the first one having been that of the the singer of ¡Tomar Control!, the only all-female hardcore punk band in Latin America.
P.S. Interested in other farmer stories? Here’s the Life of a Soy Farmer in Paraguay!