Here at Mighty Good, we make it a priority to visit origin as often as possible, ever on the lookout for new coffees to bring back to our customers. But it’s also more than that: visiting origin is a way to keep in touch with the people who work incredibly hard to produce the delicious berries that we roast, grind, and brew to make your morning coffee.
It already seems a long time ago, but just last month (December 2017) we sent a Mighty Good delegation to the sunny climes of Jardin in Antioquia, Colombia, to meet some of our producers and source coffee for the coming year.
Sometimes we visit origin to gain knowledge, as we did in February 2017 when we traveled to Costa Rica to experience, first hand, the effort required to grow coffee on the steep slopes of the Tarrazu valley. We witnessed every step coffee takes along its journey at origin, from experiencing picking the trees ourselves, to delivering the fruit to the mill where it is prepped for export.
The recent Colombia visit was more about cultivating relationships. As a company we have visited Colombia on three occasions, returning each time with new stories of the wonderful experiences we’ve enjoyed with the fantastic people we partner with, and always sampling and sourcing incredible coffees. This time was no different—over the course of four days and six farm visits, we witnessed ingenuity, were graced by our hosts’ hospitality, and were thrilled to continue to support a thriving local coffee-growing community.
In Colombia, we were reminded that “every farm is a family” - we met several third or fourth generation landowners who were working diligently to preserve the family legacy and contribute to the growth and success for future generations. We will be telling some of those stories in blog posts to come.
One of the most interesting differences between our Costa Rican and Colombian trips last year was the differences in the milling process. In Costa Rica, the fruit was harvested and delivered daily to a centralized mill where all the coffee cherries in an area were mixed, then sorted by weight and depulped onsite prior to fermentation in parchment. Pickers are paid for the fruit at the end of each day before it’s collected and delivered to the wet mill each night.
In Colombia it is more segmented: each farm has its own equipment, and farmers actually complete the first part of the milling process on their own property. They depulp, wash, and ferment the beans, then bring the dried parchment to the mill. Each bag is then sampled, sorted, and hand milled immediately in order to determine the quality and price the mill will pay for the final product.
To further check the quality, each lot is sample roasted and cupped, with the results meticulously recorded. The goal is to nurture open dialogue with the mill and producers in order to keep the standards high and look for opportunities for continual improvement. This way, the farmers remain deeply invested and engaged in driving the quality of their coffee.
In the next post, we’ll take you through our farm visits and introduce you to the farmers who put the work into growing the coffee.