Farm: Finca La Cristalina
Varietal: Caturra & Colombia
Processing: 24 hours fermentation & dried on raised beds and patios
Altitude: 1,900 metres above sea level
Owner: Alejandro Ahumada
Town / City: Buenos Aires, San Pedro de Cartago
La Cristalina – Alejandro Ahumada (Nariño) - Colombia
Alejandro Ahumada is 70 years old. While he admits that he is slowing down a bit, he still directly manages his small farm, La Cristalina, with the help of his wife, Victoria Lasso. They have lived and harvested coffee here for over 40 years. Victoria´s family has a farm right next door and Alejandro, with savings and constant hard work, built up La Cristalina over the years, slowly building to the farm’s current size of 5 hectares. The couple are shy but very friendly and represent many of the hardworking coffee growers of Colombia.
Although these days they don’t take part in the most strenuous manual labour conducted on the farm, you can still find the couple walking around the farm for most of the day supervising the work of their employees and making sure the wet mill is working properly and the drying is being done correctly. Although their two daughters no longer live with them – both have married and settled with their husbands – the pace of farm life is maintained, with both dedicating their all to producing the best quality coffee that they possibly can.
Alejandro and Victoria have also been able to rely on their local growers’ cooperative to help them. Formed of approximately 60 families from within the municipality of San Pedro de Cartago in Colombia’s Nariño state, Fundacion Agraria y Ambiental Para el Desarrollo Sostenible (The Agrarian and Environmental Foundation for Sustainable Development, or FUDAM) is an organisation devoted to improving human development and environmental sustainability through agricultural practices. The group represents coffee growers as well as developing projects in income diversification (such as raspberry farming) and food security. As the group is small, projects and activities are highly democratic and have far wider reach than the Foundations’ immediate membership.
FUDAM was established in 1999/2000 and has taken as one of its most important mandates the project of keeping youth in coffee farming. Helping their members reach new, speciality markets for various products – in particular, coffee – has been of utmost importance in achieving their goals. Quality competitions have been part of this practice as has reaching out to governmental bodies to help fund activities that positively impact quality and, therefore, market access for small coffee producers. Funding has been difficult to come by, however. As means of furthering their goals, recently contact was made with Mercanta’s sourcing partner, Pergamino, who have worked with other cooperatives in Colombia who seek to harness quality coffee as a means to improving quality of life for their members.
Pergamino sees great potential for the future. They’ve recently established an agreement with FUDAM that includes not only purchasing from the group but also serving as mentors and trainers in the group’s quest for improved quality. In the coming year, cuppers from Pergamino will mentor the group, teaching cupping and helping them establish cupping protocols. As an end result, Pergamino will help find markets for all coffees scoring 84 or above.