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About Colombia Aponte Honey
Arrived January 2024, in protective in Grainpro liners and a recent arrival to the US.
The collaboration between Cooperativa Café de Altura in Buesaco and the coffee growers from Aponte, has resulted in 'Aponte Coffees'. This collaboration aims to empower the Inga people and has been fostered through various visits, including sourcing trips and exchange programs. Less than 5,000 Aponte people live on a reservation that has been designated by the government of Colombia. They speak in their own dialect, dress in customary garments, and practice traditions that have been handed down for centuries. There is no individual land ownership per se, with all land considered to be part of the community. However, families live on and develop their own plots of agriculture. The Inga population descended from the Andean Incas during the period between the 13th and 16th century. This group focuses on sustainability in its many forms, including the preservation of their community, traditions and notable agricultural prowess. The land they occupy provides a near perfect habitat for coffee - close to the Equator, with altitudes over 2100 meters and a steady warm breeze.
The area however, is not without its challenges. There is a fault line affecting the town and the Aponte community continues to persevere and produce exceptional coffees despite this. Rebuilding efforts are somewhat hindered by uncertainty in the fault line's unpredictable progression, and government assistance has been slow due to the town's remote location. Nonetheless, the resilient coffee growers in Aponte produce both fully Washed and Honey processed coffees, with each producer having a small mill area for daily processing on their farms. The area has seen a great deal of drug cartel related violence, especially in the 1990 and early 2000s, but through negotiation with the Colombian government, the Aponte's gained recognition and protected status.
The Aponte have developed great skill at producing coffee - honey processing in particular. The first step is to harvest only ripe coffee cherry, a task that takes repeated passes through the farms. After harvest, the coffee is depulped, meaning that its outer skin is removed. The coffee mucilage dries while spread on wooden tiered raised beds covered with a protective plastic layer, a method introduced through Co-op Especiales' initiatives. Finally, the fully dried coffee is washed, dried again and milled. Specialty coffee holds particular significance for Aponte, as it provides a legal and sustainable livelihood for landowners.
Fernando Ordonez, the co-op's liaison with Aponte, emphasizes the importance of specialty coffee in creating economic opportunities and sustaining legal livelihoods in a region where farming tends to involve illegal crops. Fernando himself is actively involved in managing three farms, showcasing his commitment to the community's prosperity and resilience.
Nariño is the southwestern most department (State) of Colombia, just north of Ecuador and bordered by the Pacific Ocean to its west. As you travel inland from the Pacific, elevations climb sharply from sea level to those over 2,000 meters. Growing coffee, especially quality driven coffee, is an arduous and sometimes dangerous pursuit, yet producers continue to strive for excellence in their coffee as a way to care for their families.
- Country: Colombia
- Region: Narino
- Sub-region: Buesaco
- Producer organization: Cooperativa Café de Altura
- Farmers: Smallholders
- Variety: Caturra
- Altitude: 2150 meters
- Processing: Honey. Pulped and dried with mucilage, followed by washing
- Drying: Raised beds