The municipality of Inzá, located in the corner of the Department of Cauca, borders with Tolima and Huila, looking out to the west over the Pacific Ocean. Situated on the “Macizo Colombiano” (the Colombian Plateau), surrounding the high peaks of Tolima and Huila, the region is an important source of water and wildlife, in addition to being prime coffee growing land.
This coffee was produced by 52 smallholder coffee producers from the neighbouring sub-municipalities of Pedregal and San Antonio. Every micro-lot delivered was cupped and reserved due to its scoring 85 points or above by the community cupping lab, funded by Pergamino, who are based in the Department of Antioquia. These stringent standards result in very limited quantities of this exceptional blend of 70%+ Caturra and approx 30% Variedad Colombia being made available for export.
Cauca’s violent past, with a heavy presence of FARC guerrillas, had historically prevented the FNC (Colombia’s excellent national coffee board) and specialty-focused exporters from establishing a presence in the region. As violence has diminished, it has enabled the growers in the region to seek increased access to markets for quality, not only taking advantage of the region’s wonderful coffee-growing conditions but also the economic resource that nearby tourist destinations bring (for instance, the World Heritage Site “Parque Nacional Arqueológico de Tierradentro”).
Like all producers in Colombia, Pergamino spent many years helplessly riding the roller coaster of international coffee prices. They had to invest, year after year, in their crops without knowing what price they would secure. When they began selling their coffee directly to importers and roasters, everything changed. When they extended this model to small holder farmers in Antioquia, they also changed everything for them.
Today, Pergamino works with more than 600 smallholder farmers in four Departments. They are committed to transparency in their partnerships with these farmers, ensuring that profit margins are clear and that value added by quality goes directly to the producer. The premiums that Pergamino pays range from 30-300% over market prices, depending on cupping score and volume. They also provide technical assistance so that farmers can continue to improve crop quality.
Specifically in Cauca, they have launched a new pilot project with the Pillimue family in San Antonio, from where this coffee was sourced. In order to offer up market access more widely in the region and to put more control in the hands of local people, the family has opened a small warehouse and cupping lab with funding from Pergamino. The Pillimue/Pergamino partnership enables more families than ever before to access higher prices by placing coffee on the specialty market.