Visit To Ubaque, Colombia

Ubaque township is a 1.5-hour drive from the capital city Bogota. The drive takes you up over 3400 meters above sea level. While waiting at road works we ate fresh made cheese with papaya paste from a roadside stall. A far cry from waiting for the stop/go person in Australia!

Once into the valley the temperature cools, perfect for slow ripening coffee cherries. We meeting Diana Florez Mora and her husband for lunch in the town square with a view of the beautiful local church. Diana runs the non-profit co-op we have been buying coffee from for the last three years.

Church in Ubaque, Colombia

We have been buying coffee here for the past 3 years, so it was time to pay a visit to Ubaque . The farmers are grouped into a not-for-profit collective by Diana Florez Mora to try and achieve better outcomes for their coffee. So far they have 42 families in the collective. By acting as a group they have been able to create larger lots and now work with the mill as a unit.

The coop has a small collection office in the town for the members to bring their coffee to. Farmers children are all trained in basic coffee grading. When members bring in their coffee it’s graded at the the station for quality. The farmer receives a detailed sheet with the information on their coffee. Then, when the coffee reaches the mill it undergoes a second grading. All the high quality lots go into our blend and the farmer is paid a higher rate. Coffee that doesn’t hit the standard gets paid the mills daily rate.

The farmer receives 100% of the payment and gives 1% back to the coop. This money pays for the day to day running of the collection station. They also buy fertilisers in bulk and sell them back to the farmers at cost. Each farmer has their soil tested and get specific recommendations on what they need.

Coffee Sorting on the Ubaque visit

Ubaque has a staggered coffee harvest because of the different altitudes of the farms. Lower farms harvest first followed by the higher. The higher altitudes mean lower temperatures so the coffee cherries need more time to ripen. Although the higher areas produce higher quality coffee than the lower, they have a much lower yield per tree.

I also visited Hilda, a smallholder nearby. Hilda has been managing her family farm for the past 7 years. They’ve improved the quality of their coffee and planted 2000 new trees on the farm in the last 2 years. They built an enclosed drying room to make sure drying is even and consistent.

Hilda with her coffee drying behind her in Ubaque

Hilda has her whole family involved in the farm and with the extra income they receive she sees a future in the farm for all. After a tour around Hilda’s farm I visited the collection station and met some other farmers in the Co-op. They are all thrilled with the work Diana has done for them. It hasn’t gone unnoticed. Diana is now setting up the model for the greater Cundinamarca region with the potential for over 1000 families to take part.   

We spoke about running a competition next harvest by separating the top ten lots then Rumble cupping them and paying a higher price bonus to the tops lots we choose. The hope here is to show the benefit of higher quality and increasing the whole crop quality over all. This would let us pay more for the entire lot and, as we grow, they grow with us.

For more information on our Transparency Project and the coffee we buy, click here

To learn more about transparency in coffee and why it matters, head to Transparent Trade Coffee 

If you want to buy our Haymaker blend, which features the lovely coffee from Ubaque, head to our store