July's Roaster's Choice Coffee Box subscribers will be enjoying Villamaria, a coffee from Colombia.
The Villamaria station is uniquely placed for processing coffee in that it is surrounded by high-altitude mountain-ous growing regions but is itself at lower altitude with drier and more stable weather. Farmers from around 30 farming families in the neighbouring Jamaica and Villarazo regions face higher humidity and less predictable weather patterns so would struggle to produce consistently excellent coffee. Instead they deliver cherry to the Villamaria station where not only are the facilities and climate ideal for processing coffee cherry but its accessibility by road facilities the easy onward trade of the final product.
The station also boasts a Nuna dehydrator. This is a mechanical drier which controls temperature and humidity for either the whole or partial processing. Covered raised beds also exist for drying which means the station has a variety of methods at its disposal and has focused specifically on the methods of honey and natural processes with some exception results. We find the cup fruit forward and led by a prominent juicy strawberry note but balanced with chocolate flavours and a smooth hazelnut too.
Volcano in Colombia - The Red Association
While this Villamaria coffee is a special micro-lot it has been sourced via a network of producers that we’ve established via much broader trade and involvement with producers in Colombia over recent years. One such initiative which has arisen from this involvement is the Red Assocation model for trading coffee which seeks to redefine how buyers, sellers and farmers can interact for more equitable outcomes.
The initiative was created between farming communities in Colombia and green coffee traders Raw Material in which (supported by co-founding roasters such as Volcano Coffee) coffee is traded in a way that ensures equitable outcomes for small producers.
Conversations with producer groups representing 300 farming families led to-identifying stable and sustainable prices for farmers as the greatest obstacles to community development. Usually when coffee is traded (Specialty or not) prices are informed by volatile global coffee market prices. This exposes producers to prices which disregard their local costs of production (more often than not resulting in a loss). The Red Association model is therefore bolt on the following foundations:
• Prices are mutually agreed based on identifying specific regional costs of production to ensure a sustainable livelihood for farmers.
• Prices are fixed and demand (assurance of a sale) is guaranteed.
• Secondary bonus payments are offered for high equality small lots
• Education and shared processing facilities necessary for quality improvements are funded through the Red Association partners i.e roasters and Raw Material.