hi there its...
as told by our friends at Shared Source
27-year old Viviana farms alongside her husband Pablo, occasionally with some help from their 7-year-old son Juan Pablo. Her 7-hectare farm, inherited from her father, is between 1650 - 1700 masl, and she has a variety of trees: 8000 pink bourbon trees (planted 4 years ago, this lot is their first big harvest), 15000 Caturra, 5000 Variedad Colombia, and 2000 Castillo which she sells to the local cooperative.
To process, she starts with ripe cherries, and she floats them in water to remove the under- and over-ripe cherries. From there, she carefully stores the cherries in a sealed Grain Pro bag, and they begin their fermentation process within the cherry (sometimes this process is called “carbonic maceration”, borrowing a term from the wine industry. After 28 hours of a “cherry-ferment”, she de-pulps the coffee and leaves it to ferment in water, constantly stirring and cleaning the water- for up to 40 hours. During peak harvest seasons, she pays a significantly higher price to pickers, which allows her to ask that they only pick ripe cherries. Friends and family from her husband’s side of the family from Nariño (with a primary harvest season in different months) also come in to help with the picking. This is the second lot of her pink bourbon harvest that was large enough for us to purchase, and it was still a small lot- just 15 35 kg sacks.
Viviana and her family recently built a dryer that’s large enough to dry 1000 kg (that’s pretty big!), and they’re looking forward to a larger production, thanks to increased yields because of careful pruning. She and her family are moving slowly towards organic production- they’re worried about their yields going down, which could be devastating from an economic perspective. We’ve advised her (like we do to all producers) that we encourage her transition towards organics to be slow, thoughtful, and planned out. The farm is on a steep hillside, which makes bringing fertilizer, organic material, and other farm inputs to the trees a difficult task. They’re thinking of building a pulley/bridge system to bring bags from one part of the farm to another with a bit more ease and efficiency.
Viviana is a member of Los Guácharos- a group of independent, quality-focused small producers in southern Huila (close to Pitalito). The group is collectively converting to organic agriculture, making their own fertilizers and fungicides, installing complex water filtration systems that use gravity, stones, and sand to remove all mucilage residues from wastewater to not contaminate water systems.
Many members of the group have started the conversion to fully ecological and regenerative production, close to biodynamics. The Guacharos produce a brew (called Super Magro) made up of organic minerals and waste products, molasses, bone ash, and manure (among other ingredients), fermented with microorganisms collected from virgin soils and used as a fertilizer and protectant from disease. The Super Magro is edible, incredibly effective, and represents a producer-driven grassroots movement empowering producers to increase soil health, reduce costs and stop dependence on chemicals.
We have been working independently with the Guacharos for several years. They are forcefully self-determined. The group’s power lies in their organization as an association, committed to improving all members’ coffee, and cooperating to sell directly, without working with intermediaries. They have all voluntarily trained at the local agricultural college in specialty coffee production: everything from agronomy and accounting to roasting, cupping, and latte art. They collectively pay for consultancy in organic agriculture, and they work on each other’s farms installing water filtration systems and spraying organic fertilizers.
We are in constant contact with a large number of producer-members who make sure our recommendations in terms of processing and parchment storage are diffused throughout the group. We work the closest with Edilma and Carmen: they know when we are returning to cup and purchase and make sure all the producers know to deliver parchment samples, a massive bag of samples are then sent to the lab that we use in Pitalito for us to assess. We cup and then visit and invariably take another big bag of samples, which we roast and cup again. We cup each producer’s coffee meticulously- even if it doesn’t pass the grade, we give them lengthy feedback on the processing so they can improve.
When we decide on the lots, they hire a truck and we pay for transport to the mill whose services we contract. We then export under our own license and pay the association directly from our Colombian bank account. They are an inspiring group full of smiles and the will to constantly learn and improve as artisans and improve the livelihoods of their members, all of which are very small-scale farmers of coffee and their own food crops.
We purchase parchment coffee directly from the association, and pesos are transferred straight to their bank account upon receipt of parchment at our chosen mill. We pay for transport from Bruselas to the mill. We paid 1,850,000 pesos per carga (125 pounds of parchment coffee, this is the unit farmers sell their coffee in) to Viviana for this coffee. For context, here is a link to the daily carga market price:
Hello there! My name is Jess! I was born and raised in Colorado, but I have lived in many places since then. I moved from colorful Colorado to Las Vegas for a few months before making my long drive to Oregon. It was in a tiny town in Hillsboro that I got hired on as a barista at Insomnia Coffee Company where my caffeinated adventure began. I fell head over heels for the community surrounding this coffee world and as I started to learn about the realm of specialty coffee I knew I was in it for the long haul. After a few years working at my shop as a “Baseline Babe,” I was offered a job as an assistant to the Director of Education. FUN FACT: I went to college to become an educator, so the opportunity couldn’t have been more perfect! I loved getting to teach people about what I was so passionate about. Shortly thereafter I was given a position as manager. DANG did I love my job, creating badass baristas and watching others get as excited as I got when I first started, and I was honored to give them that. Managing also introduced me to my best friend, soulmate, business partner, love of my life (or we can just call him Matt). After managing a shop together we set our sights towards sunny California where we live currently. We had always talked about the business we would create someday and now here we are, the owners of Matte Coffee Company. It’s so nice to meet you.
Hi, I’m Matt and I’m an addict (coffee). Didn’t used to be that way though. Growing up I hated the smell and taste of it thanks to the coffee aisle at the grocery store. I’d plug my nose and hold my breath every time my grandma needed to grab some more beans. It wasn’t until coffee became an absolute necessity in college (in Phoenix, AZ) that I decided to dive deeper into this weird beverage. I found myself at a tiny little coffee shop in downtown Phoenix to study one day and the barista offered me something my 15-year-old self would scoff at - black coffee. Except for this time, the coffee (from Kenya) tasted like fruit juice instead of the bitter and oily stuff I was accustomed to. I was hooked and spent the next 4 hours in that coffee shop reading The World Atlas of Coffee (look it up, you might get hooked too). I got a job at a roastery back in California after graduating, then shortly thereafter found myself in Hillsboro, Oregon working at Insomnia Coffee Company where I met my partner in crime and business, Jess. It wasn’t until then where I truly felt like this coffee thing was the path I was meant to be on. Finding your purpose is fun, but it’s even better when you’ve got the right person to share it with.
I’ll keep it short and cuz my mom and dad ramble too much. I’m Brylee (aka Bubba, Sweetest, Weenie, Thweetest Girl, Nugget, and too many more). What I lack in size, I make up for in attitude. I will always accept butt pats and will most definitely try and eat your food. If there’s an intruder, I’ll let you know with my vicious bork. But other than that, I’m pretty easy going, unless you tell me that we’re going for a ride… then you better not break my heart. Sweet and sassy and always classy. XOXOXO