We were introduced to Orgánica about seven years ago, at which point the coffee-growing association was still establishing itself as a viable organization and was only able to produce small amounts of coffee. The growers of Orgánica had all belonged to larger, regional cooperatives before joining Orgánica in hopes of finding recognition for their high-quality coffee and more accountability from the organization.
Nelson and his wife, Liliana, both of whom have backgrounds in organizing, galvanized a handful of growers to sell coffee to Virmax for the first time in 2005, and, over the next few years membership and overall production grew steadily.
In late 2009, leaf rust struck Colombia and reduced Orgánica's output by 75 percent. The association lost more than 50 of its 120 members in the couple of years that followed, but the core remained strong—particularly in the Guayabal community where Counter Culture has the longest history—and gradually the group regained members and those members reestablished their farms and coffee production.
Timbio, Popayán, Colombia
Popayán, Colombia, is the capital of the southwestern region of Cauca. Much of Colombia's certified organic coffee from small producers comes out of Cauca. The city itself is breathtakingly beautiful: All the colonial buildings in the center of the city are painted white, and it's not uncommon to see farmers driving horses into town along cobblestone streets crowded with new cars and motorcycles. Because the city sits on a plateau, it's easy to forget how high the coffee farms in the rolling hills around it are—until the sun goes down and the temperature drops precipitously.
Nelson Melo has been an unflagging leader and advocate for La Golondrina since the birth of the association and the inception of the relationship between Orgánica and Counter Culture Coffee. Nelson has performed many functions within the association over the years, but, regardless of his title, he's Orgánica's de facto leader both in personality and in producing some of the group's best coffee—at least so far. Another buyer had already spoken for the coffee from Nelson's farm, Las Acacias, when we met him in 2006. So, while we have worked closely with him for seven years, this is the only the second year we've had the chance to offer his coffee. Nelson has 3 hectares in coffee production and 16 hectares of land total.
Variety: Caturra, Bourbon
Elevation: 1,930 meters
Post-Harvest Process: Washed
Harvest Time: April–July 2012
Certifications: Certified Organic • Direct Trade Certified