Abades Nariño Excelso
Federación Abadaes is collective of small producer associations residing within Nariño. These associations were created during the CRS Borderland Project to create market openings for producers in the region, to help make technical innovations in processing and quality and most of all, to help producers achieve self-determination.
This lot is from the town Samaniego and the surrounding area. The town of Samaniego has a complicated history. Situated along a highly contested route that moves coca (the plant from which cocaine is derived) between the Colombian coast and nearby borders of Ecuador and Peru, the region has long been a site for violence and conflict. Between its location at the crossroads of cocaine smuggling routes and the high presence of FARC rebel groups, the town and the surrounding coffee lands have historically been quite isolated. Until 2017, visits to the region were highly unsafe and difficult to organise.
Despite this persistent violence, the coffee produced in Samaniego consistently ranks among the highest qualities in the department of Nariño. Producers here are now making the most of this potential, and Federación Abades is helping them. Abades is today run by an elected group of representatives from each participating community. The board is composed mostly by women, who have been the prominent leaders and innovators in this region for some time. Many of the adult men in the community have left or been lost to the con?ict over the course of many years and over more than one generation. The women have been running the farms, raising their families, and making the strides to improve their communities’ situation.
It took several years of intensive work and weathering of challenges, but this is one of the most successful endeavours of its kind in the world of small coffee farmers. Abades is now an independent producer group with the infrastructure and know-how to collectively market their own coffee and decide their futures. This kind of organisation tied with quality and demand from the specialty market helps smallholder producers have more say in the supply chain. While smallholder producers in Colombia have many more options than most other countries for selling their coffee, it is rare that producers at this scale can dictate the terms and control of sales.
Contrary to other departments where newer, disease resistant hybrids have replaced traditional coffee varieties, farmers in Nariño overwhelmingly grow Caturra, Typica and Bourbon. These ‘traditional’ varieties come with challenges, but the quality pay-off is great. We are proud to have full traceability on each lot that went into this blend. We also know that each producer received a price well above the average internal price.
Harvest & Post-Harvest
Coffee production in Nariño is small scale, for the most part. During the harvest season, cherry is carefully handpicked by smallholder farmers and their families.
All farmers who contributed to this Abades lots processed their coffee using the traditional Fully washed method. Coffee is pulped, usually on a small, mechanised drum pulper, and then fermented in concrete or tile-lined tanks. Following fermentation, the coffee is washed with clean water before being laid out to dry. Drying can take different forms in Nariño, usually depending on the size of farm. Some farmers use raised beds and others may have small, greenhouse-like parabolic dryers. Rooftop “elbas” are also widely used. Drying, processing, and storage have all made significant advances since the beginning of the project several years ago.
The communication and connection between producers and the market actors has created a situation of better understanding of signals and potentials between both parties. Autonomy Through Cupping One of the most impressive advances of the Borderlands project has been the training of local staff to be able to run quality control (QC) operations at the producer level. With local staff who have comprehensive cupping and QC knowledge, producers can know the quality of their coffee and better understand its value. This gives them more knowledge when it comes to setting prices. The cuppers in Abades Federación are almost exclusively the children of farmers. These young people, mostly in their late teens or early 20s, have made impressive strides.
Coffee in Colombia
Colombia has been producing and exporting coffee renowned for their full body, bright acidity and rich aftertaste, since the early 19th century.
Colombia boasts a wide range of climates and geographic conditions that, in turn, produce their own unique flavors in coffee. This also means that harvest times can vary quite a bit. In fact, between all its different regions, Colombia produces fresh crop nearly all year round.
The increasing focus on the specialty industry is changing the way traders and farmers do business. It is becoming more common for farmers to isolate the highest quality beans in their lots to market separately. These higher quality lots are often sold under specific brands or stories.