Grounds For Change.
Being an admirer of all that Colombia has to offer including coffee, I was overcome with excitement when I received the answers to the 12th Friday Feature with Jeremy from Finca Atikvah. So much so, I named it as a special edition Feature.
Similarly, getting in touch with The Colombian Coffee Company who I’ve quietly admired and had fleeting encounters with until now (there’s a post in the “review” section on the site), has been a real treat and in some ways, provides us with a continuation of the story of farmers such as Jeremy. A story finally familiar with us now. A story we cherish and revel in providing a happy ending to.
This week’s edition features Eduardo Florez, the founder & director of The Colombian Coffee Company, a social enterprise who pride themselves on bringing Colombia’s best beans to Londoners, whilst making a real difference to the lives of Colombian coffee farmers. Sounds awesome right? It is. Find out more about Eduardo, his company and Colombian coffee in this second special edition interview below!
Q- Who Is Eduardo?
A- A humble coffee lover, founder of social enterprise The Colombian Coffee Company.
Q- Preferred coffee drink?
A- Tinto, prepared in a traditional Colombian olleta (clay jug).
Q- Favourite brew Method?
A- Filtered with a cotton filter.
Q- Tell us about your last coffee.
A- 19 grams of Yellow Caturra from Rio Blanco, Tolima, prepared as an Espresso extracted in 26 seconds.
Q- Do you have a favourite coffee producing country, particular farm or varietal?
A- Borbón Rosé from Pitalito, Huila, South West of Colombia.
Q- Share a coffee highlight so far; where everything from the drink to the setting was just perfect!
A- I was in Nabusímake the capital of the Arhuaco people in la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, I was visiting some of the coffee farmers and was introduced to chewing coca leaves before traveling a few miles to visit the mother of an Arhuaco leader. I was feeling really thirsty and my tongue was feeling a little numb. As soon as we arrived we were offered a tinto which gave me the perfect excuse to spit the coca leaves. That nice tinto saved my day!
Q- What’s you must-have coffee companion?
A- In Colombia my Canon E50. In the UK my debit card.
Q- Most important coffee tool?
A- Panela, especially the one produced by the Arhuaco people.
A- Decaf? What’s that? But if you are looking for a less-caffeinated variety then Colombia could be a good bet. Caffeine is actually a substance produced by the coffee plant to ward off certain insects and there are less of these at higher altitudes, which means that coffee from mountainous areas like Colombia tend to have less caffeine.
Q- Capsules/ pods. Thoughts?
A- Lots of thoughts: greed, profits, environment, bitter taste, advertising, sustainability…
Q- Without coffee…?
A- have a hot chocolate instead! All you’ll need is an olleta and a wooden molinillo (spoon).
Q- Why Speciality Coffee?
A- For me it is a win-win situation. The farmers can make a better livelihood by growing higher quality varieties and so charging more money for their crops, and the coffee lovers get to drink some amazing coffees!
About The Colombian Coffee Company,
Q- What is The Colombian Coffee Company and how was it born?
A- We are a social enterprise committed to supporting coffee growing communities in Colombia, helping them to create sustainable livelihoods. The seed was born a long time ago; back in Colombia the day my father decided to cut the coffee trees from his farm because it wasn’t a profitable business. Years later, living in London and working for the ethical fashion brand Bottletop.org, I was very struck by the speciality coffee boom happening in Shoreditch. As a Colombian I knew that we had some great coffees to offer, and I wanted to find a way to share the profits of the coffee craze with the communities that grow it.
Q- Where and how do you source your beans?
A- I source coffees from all over Colombia really. I have a particular interest in small farms, victims of the conflict, organic production methods, coffees grown under shade, and most importantly, varietals with good notes. I also run a project which supports farmers who have only just been able to return to their lands after the end of the 50 year civil war, last year.
Q- What is The Colombian Coffee Company trying to achieve?
A- Put simply, I am not not afraid of dreaming for a better world and I believe that coffee has a vital role to play in Colombia post-conflict, It’s one of the major traded commodities across the world and if we can find a way to trade it fairly we can have a major impact on the lives of so many people around the globe. At the moment, the majority of the people who grow it still live in poverty. Let’s stop the unfairness of the coffee trade!
Q- What makes Colombia such a special place for coffee production?
A- It’s a magical crazy mix: rich volcanic soils high in potassium and other minerals, tropical humidity, lots of mountains meaning lots of water and therefore the successful washed process. Also, an abundance of small holders, the tradition of carefully selecting the beans by hand at harvest times, an amazing coffee research institute (Cenicafé) and hardworking families.
Q- What are coffee drinking habits like in Colombia?
A- We mainly drink Tintos: 12grams traditionally filtered with cotton filters and sweetened with Panela, our organic raw sugar cane.
Q- Any final thoughts or words to leave us with?
A- Cocaine and Pablo Escobar gave Colombians a very stupid reputation. We are here in London to challenge that, and we are happy to share our great coffee culture from our shop in Borough Market.