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Federación Abades

Samaniego, Nariño, Colombia
Partner since: 2020 Traceable to: 206 smallholder members
Nov Dec Jan Apr May Jun Feb May Jun Jul Jan Feb Mar Jun Jul Aug

Community Context

Abades is the name a region that covers three municipalities; Samaniego, Santacruz and Providencia. In total, there are over 3,200 farming families in this area; many of whom are descendants of the original Pasto, Quillacinga, Abade, and Sindagua peoples from this area. The mountainous geography of this region makes it both remote, and a central route through which coca and coffee are traded.

Federación Abades is perhaps the most serious coffee cooperative int his region. Representing 206 families, organized across 9 groups and into an 18 person General Assembly; yes, that means nearly 9% of members are representatives at the assembly level.

This group was first introduced to US specialty through the 2012 Borderlands fermentation project, following which their coffee was pre-sold every harvest for a number of years. They’ve grown slowly, by necessity. Each farmer has less than one hectare, but delivers cherry to the cooperative an average of 20 – 30 times each season. Each of these nano-deliveries are cupped and green graded to provide feedback to producers, and insight into lot separation for export. Their goal, as a group, is to change the reputation of their region from being known for war, to being known for great coffee, both internally and internationally.

Country Context

Colombia and coffee are nearly synonymous. For decades, US specialty has looked to Colombia to source the entire spectrum of coffees, from all-day approachable blenders to unique and experimental competition lots. This range speaks to the diversity to be found within Colombia–diversity in climate, coffee, and culture. Colombia harvests coffee nearly year-round from the northern mountain ranges in the Sierra Nevada to the Rezuardos in the South. Some farmers negotiate directly with roasters on cup scores and track international prices. Others come from remote communities and sell to the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) – a setter of standards and buyer of last resort for communities that have access to no other customer.

It can be most fulfilling to comb through collections and drill down past the bodega level. All that is possible within a single collection can often be scaled up if you just ask, that is if you find the right partners who care to listen. Earning trust, calibrating on coffee, and getting into a good cadence for communication are more important here than in other parts of the world.

In Colombia, quality can be found from estates at the container-load or from smallholders 1-2 bags at a time. The key is finding the right partners who can help you to cut through the noise and get to the best coffees every harvest.