We are commonly asked how we source our coffee. We get questions like, “Do you buy directly?” and “are the farmers being paid an honorable price?” We take pride in sourcing responsibly, but answers to these questions are multi-faceted. With this blog series I want to give you a peek into how we source coffees in Colombia. Hint: relationships along the supply chain are the secret sauce!
Back in the fall of 2018, we began buying coffee from The Coffee Quest (TCQ) based out of Colombia. From 83 point blender lots to 86+ point micro lots, they have been our biggest supplier of high-quality Colombian coffees ever since. They are a specialty focused export operation with full control over their own dry mill, and this is a huge deal for delivering on quality. It’s one thing to find a great coffee from a farmer, it’s a whole different story to get that coffee milled, sorted, segregated, and shipped in a timely manner to maintain the quality produced at the farm. TCQ has grown over the years, and they now have 11 buying stations throughout the country where staff members maintain relationships with local coffee farmers. Even though coffee is harvested seasonally, it is a year-round job to be in communication with the farmers and maintain relationships. Coffee is all about relationships, from the farm to the exporter, to the roaster, and to the baristas and customers in the cafes.
I tagged along with Stephen (TCQ partner) and Jessica (coffee buyer in Pitalito and strategic relationships manager) for three days as they visited farms in central and southern Huila in June 2022. I got to see what goes into their buying relationships. Over the course of the trip, I saw their interaction with both existing clients from established specialty coffee farms they bought from for years as well as with some farmers who are newer to selling into the specialty market. We ended our trip right outside Medellin where TCQ’s dry mill and central cupping lab is located.
To learn more about sourcing specialty coffee in Colombia, tune in as more blogs are coming!