Coffee exporter Caravela introduced us to the Orgánica Cooperative that produces La Golondrina almost a decade ago. At that time the coffee-growing association was still establishing itself as a viable organization and only able to produce small amounts of coffee. The members of Orgánica had all belonged to larger, regional cooperatives before forming Orgánica in hopes of finding recognition for their high-quality product and more accountability from the organization. Nelson Melo and his wife, Liliana Pabón, both of whom have backgrounds in organizing, galvanized a handful of growers to sell coffee to Caravela for the first time in 2005. Over the next few years, membership and overall production grew steadily.
In the past, Colombia's tiny, family-run farms have sold their produce to exporters for mass-market blending and homogenization, causing many of the country's most-exquisite coffees to get lost in the mix. Our partnership with the growers of La Golondrina creates stable pricing and works with our exporting partners, as well, to identify, isolate, and pay premiums for the best lots.
Explanation of the Name
The association of organic coffee producers responsible for La Golondrina calls itself Orgánica, which translates as "organic" and would be a confusing name for a coffee. We named Orgánica's coffee La Golondrina—the Spanish word for swallow, an icon that symbolizes the ability to cross frontiers and make connections between people at great distance from one another.
The colonial, white-washed city of Popayán is located in the southwestern Colombian region of Cauca, The farms of Orgánica's members lie in clusters around the villages of Timbio and Piendamó, to the north of Popayán, and they range in size from one hectare to more than 20 hectares.
By producing high-quality coffee according to the rules of organic certification, the growers of La Golondrina achieve what many have deemed impossible in the volume- and productivity-focused country of Colombia. The Orgánica association behind La Golondrina depends on the charismatic and unflagging leadership of Nelson Melo and Liliana Pabón, and, over the past few years, they have helped the organization grow to include more than 130 members despite the loss of a third of their members during the 2009 outbreak of leaf rust that cut Colombia's total coffee production in half.
With perseverance and patience by all parties, production has rebounded. Much of Counter Culture's La Golondrina lot comes from a group of growers in the tiny village of Guayabal—which is home to single-farmer-lot producers Arismendes Vargas, Gloria Tejada, and the team of Manuel Melenje and Inés Borrero, among others—and which has hung together through tough times because of their strong cooperative spirit.
Tasting Notes: Milk chocolate, cherry, and nut
Varieties: Castillo and Caturra
Elevation: 1,500–2,000 meters
Harvest Time: Nov–Dec 2015