Visiting Jamie’s farm was one of the key reasons I wanted to go to Colombia.
I first met Jamie two years ago when he came to Copenhagen. We were able to host him with the purpose of meeting the staff and for us to be able to ask him everything about his work.
It was his first time in Europe and therefore everything was new to him. I wanted him to enjoy his visit, get to know him better and use the opportunity to improve my Spanish. I even borrowed a Christiana bike and drove him around, so he could get the real Copenhagen experience!
Jaime had seen my world and now it was my turn to see his.
Jaime is a young and ambitious guy. He has taken over his father, Don Jaime's, farm a few years back when they both decided to produce specialty coffee. His father, still working at the farm, also helps Jaime on managing "El Desarollo". An association that gathers hundreds of farmers from the region of Huila. Associations facilitate the process, logistics and the trade of coffee. In that case, Jaime’s association only accepts coffee that goes through specific criteria of qualities required that will fit one of the three quality grades.
You might have seen the Desarrollo name on our bags — being an extremely sweet and well-balanced coffee, is a popular coffee amongst our wholesale customers.
After a short visit to the facilities, we walked further into the small town of Gigante, towards the Caravella warehouse to taste the freshly harvested coffee. I still remember that Pink Bourbon from Jaime’s farm on the table. Those moments when buyers and producers are able to cup on the same table are from my experience pretty rare, but so crucial.
I remember Jaime kept on saying that he had a surprise for us. He drove us up the mountain to a place that his brother had opened not too long ago. A place with probably one of the best views of the region, where you could have both dinner, breakfast and stay overnight in an exotic tent. Jaime's brother enjoyed having a place to serve the coffee from his family in the new third wave style. He had us brew some coffee and we showed him different brewing methods. As the night progressed, I'd noticed how great hosts those people were. A band played traditional songs and created a really warm atmosphere.
The next day, we went to the Casallas house. It was a small house, consisting of 4 rooms with a facade covered by flowers. It was truly beautiful and the diversity of the colors is something that I specifically remember from that place.
The family mainly grows Caturra, Pink Bourbon, Typica, and has started to grow a bit of Geisha — a variety that you might have tried already. The result from that variety is very promising. I also believe that showcasing two different flavor profiles under the same name is a great tool to show the diversity of varieties rather than just differences through origins.
The actual land of their farm is about 5 hectare but the family is considering buying another piece of land from their neighbor. An extra 2.2 hectares that equal around 10.000 more coffee trees. When the trend in our days is to buy the process or the flavor of the month, to us it is a priority to ensure the business health of our producers. Jaime produces very high-quality coffee now. If he's able to replicate that with a bigger production, it will be a huge win for both parts. He will also become an example to inspire others in a world where the production cost, in most cases, still is higher than the selling cost.
Coffee Collective being a growing company, it is crucial to spread that growth to the farm level too. It is amazing to see that our trade model works in a sustainable way, however, it is even more rewarding to see that it also can operate on a bigger scale, at the beginning of the coffee chain.
After a long day, we had the chance to stay overnight at their house. Olympia, Jaime's mum made us lunch and dinner, trust me you better be hungry! The next morning at 5am I awoke to the sounds of the surrounding wilderness. I never heard that many birds singing together. We had a few eggs, some traditional fried Platanos, freshly harvested sugar cane juice by Don Jaime and it was for us time to say goodbye.