Seeing coffee agronomists at work first-hand allows an even greater appreciation for how hard it is to grow the spectacular coffee we source at origin. Coffee farmers are at the mercy of mother nature, and the variances of growing on either side of the equator — a million things can go wrong. Plants can be eaten by insects and pests, fruit infested with mold, and trees can easily become overgrown. The farmer walks a tight rope hoping for enough rainfall yet plenty of sunshine to ensure the sugars of the fruit develop. It is our privilege at Cravens Coffee to honor these farmers with each roast.
The best coffee in the world is identified and purchased where it is grown, and the best relationships we have with farmers are those we visit year after year. A visit always entails collecting samples of the coffees. Each coffee is bought based on a reference number, called a lot – 37,500 pounds, sequestered out. There may be 500+ bags in a lot. A number is assigned to a lot and price is determined by grade. Coffee is usually regarded as the second largest traded commodity in the world (behind oil) so buying coffee is a job with which I take great care.
Vising Colombia is like no other adventure to coffee farms. While the association with drug cartels and violence fades into history, Colombia steals our hearts, so much in fact, Becky and I took our young sons there for a family trip in 2014. I’ve been escorted to coffee farms in the southern most regions (Colombians call them departments) and had the privilege of visiting source co-operatives and farmers who work hard to operate honest, democratically run businesses. The co-ops provide valuable support to the farmers such as agronomy (farming science), best practices, latest advances, and tools. We choose to work with co-ops who pay their farmers prompt and full dividends.
Back in the 60’s and 70’s the British Land Rover company had an assembly plant in Costa Rica. The vehicles were perfect for mountain work and many still serve coffee farming families today. Being a Brit myself, I always enjoy seeing this nod to home when I visit Costa Rica.
Jose Angel is the long-serving General Manager of Palmares Cooperative. His trusted, steady stewardship for over two decades has shaped the success of the town and region. Jose has a special place in our heart, as he once jumped into a water treatment pond to rescue our youngest son, Adam (6 years at the time) when he had accidentally fallen into the lagoon. Needless to say, Jose and the Palmares family of farmers has become an important part of the Cravens Coffee family folklore.