During the intensive, but very fun seven-day trip through six of Colombia’s coffee producing departments, we cupped 107 coffees, visited 13 farms and travelled over 2500km.

  • During the intensive, but very fun seven-day trip through six of Colombia’s coffee producing departments, we cupped 107 coffees, visited 13 farms and travelled over 2500km. It was one of the most eye opening and educational adventures of my life and has typically left me with even more questions and curiosities about coffee.

    Travelling to origin for the first time had been described to me as somewhat of a pilgrimage for a coffee roaster, a lot of my perception of origin was based around a love affair and a romance with coffee that I had constructed in my own mind over the last 5 years. The Juan Valdez of Colombia and Kaldi the goat herder from Ethiopia – two fantastical characters which have become synonymous with their respective countries and which represent an idyllic picture of harmony and the origin of the coffee producing culture.

  • In reality its far from romantic, it’s eye opening, shocking in some respects and very much helped me put my very lucky life into perspective. When you’re waiting for your morning coffee, spare a thought for the fact that the countries that produce the second largest traded commodity on the planet, are indeed developing countries, with challenges and issues that are as complex as they are varied, and that we are a very fortunate minority of the worlds population. This trip has been an appropriate reminder of how very comfortable we are at the bottom of our world. 

    Up until now my interpretation of coffee was one sided and to be fair quite naive, coming from a roasting and brewing perspective I had a limited view toward everything involved with producing coffee. It’s very much a case of ‘being there is everything’, understanding how things work conceptually verses how they work practically has been one of the biggest lessons I’ll take away from this trip.

  • Matt and I travelled with Chris Ammerman and Sam Langdon from Caravan Coffee Roasters in London, Torsten Hahn from Good Karma Coffee in Germany, Tyler Youngblood and Jayson Galvis from Azahar Coffee and our buddy Miguel Fajardo from Helena, all from Colombia. Our mission was to taste and experience Colombian coffee regionally with the intent to purchase quality coffee through a new model of trade developed by Matt and Tyler that ensures producers are paid a relative margin to what we make in our own cafes and is based around quality incentives and premiums that ensure our coffee producers have a sustainable and profitable business of their own, removing the volatility of the New York ‘C’ and giving them the assurance of an income they can rely on.

  • This model is built around transparency and one that has been adapted by our social enterprise Raw Material (RM). It has its challenges as any new concept does, however the tenacity of Matt and his passion for the sustainability of our farmers is an inspiration that is truly infectious and something that we believe has a real potential in the years to come. The profits generated by RM are put back into the company and reserved for development projects to help support, educate and incentivise the people we work with at origin and so much more.

    The people we’ve met on this trip are truly inspirational; Colombia is an amazing country, with beautiful people, striking vistas and has the potential to produce what I believe to be some of the best coffee in the world.

  • This post serves as an intro for several posts to come about the experiences I’ve had on this trip and to share with you the awesome people we’ve met and what they’re up to, and what Matt has been up to with the ground work he and Tyler have laid for our preferred method of buying coffee.

    Feel free to direct any questions or queries for greater detail to me: richard@rawmaterial.coffee or to Matt: matt@rawmaterial.coffee

    Have fun!


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