Switch Espresso came to us with our 6th Colombian offering, from Planadas, Tolima. A Municipality we hadn't yet tasted and a story not yet told.
Fresh inspiration delivered from the producer along with a rich history reminded us that no matter how often we go on a journey to an origin, there is so much we can learn about the community, the people, their coffee and their dreams.
During January our featured story segments were:
THE PRODUCER - ASOPEP
Their mission statement “To be known as an association that creates opportunities for the personal growth of its members, protects the environment, innovates in commercial business processes and is always the vanguard of specialty coffee producers worldwide.” by all accounts, their mission is a success. Born in 2013 in response to a felt need to organise the 167 members of an association with several objectives. To commercialise their own coffee production, shape their own governance and develop their own farm conservation model for future generations. The variables of the municipality of Planadas combine to create a very special association. From the exceptional agroclimatic conditions, thriving character of its people and the formation of the insurgent group FARC, a guerrilla movement who claim to be fighting for the rights of the poor in Colombia, protect them from government violence and provide social justice through communism. Notable is the absence of institution and the significant distance from the municipal capital of Ibague, some 252kms away on previously unpaved roads. ASOPEP includes a women's committee, empowering women in community building as part of an essential social Fabric.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
This coffee was sourced by Cofinet, who’ve been working with ASOPEP for the past 3 years and describe them as one of the most progressive Co-operatives in Colombia, consistently producing great coffees. The Co–Op currently has 300 certified organic producers and export a range of coffees from around Planadas, Tolima. Recent developments include a processing site with the intention of producing honey and natural process coffees, something that is rare for co-ops. Many countries struggle to attract younger generations to coffee production, ASOPEP has an impressive 30% of farmer members aged between 20 and 30 years old. Due to historical lack of employment, many young people had very few options, commonly resulting in recruitment by FARC. With a strong focus on building a future for coffee producers, ASOPEP have recently started a school to teach people how to cup coffees and teach barista skills, as quality control roles within co-ops can be good jobs for coffee growers. ASOPEP’s commitment to understanding, preserving and conserving the biodiversity in Planadas has resulted in visits from Ornithologists from Ibague, registration of 141 bird species, of which 6are endemic, 8 threatened with extinction and one a newly recognised species in Tolima
Planadas, Tolima was born in 1920. Created to house prisoners of crimes such as manufacturing and smuggling and tobacco, its founding was the creation of a agricultural and penal colony of South Ata. Bootleggers weren’t the only inhabitants, the primary aim was to detain people who identified with the liberal party. As time elapsed, members of both the conservative and the liberal party integrated without any problem resulting in their now world famous hospitality and kindness. It took 11 years for Liberal president Enrique to close any political prison in Colombia, including that of South Ata. The Department of Tolima is one of Colombias most productive growing regions, bordering Huila in the South East and Cauca in the west, the surprise is not that Planadas produces great coffee, but that only recently has it caught the eye of the specialty coffee industry. 2008 saw a small lot of Tolima coffee win “Coffee of the year” against a field not just Central and South American coffee, but also East African offerings. Elevation, warm days, cool nights and young health trees all contribute to the quality of the coffees produced locally.
Municipality: Planadas, Tolima
Varieties: Castillo, Caturra, Typica
Certifications: Fairtrade, Organic
Tasting notes: Aromas of ripened berries and roasted hazelnut. dry citrus acidity with brown sugar sweetness
Method: Pour Over 18 grams coarse ground coffee 250 grams water at 93 degrees 50 gram bloom for 40 seconds Pour remaining water. Total brew time 2.40 (including bloom)
Method: Espresso 19 grams ground coffee 25 – 28 second extraction 28gram yield
Thanks to Cofinet, Switch Espresso, ASOPEP.
All photos supplied by Cofinet / ASOPEP.