Trips: Fondo Paez

Written by Cafe Campesino on Aug 6, 2010 in NEWSLETTER, Trips |
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COLOMBIA TRIP REPORT – A VISIT TO FONDO PAEZ

Last month, from July 17-25, Tripp Pomeroy led a delegation of five down to Colombia where they spent the week with our long-standing and cherished trading partners at Fondo Paez. The delegation included Glenn Lathrop, owner of Desert Sun Coffee Roasters and board member of Cooperative Coffees, Claren Jamerson, manager of one of the country’s best coffee houses –The Sentient Bean in Savannah, Brad Baugh, Café Campesinocommunity investor, Scott Umstattd, photographer extraordinaire, and Tripp, who represented Café Campesino, Sweetwater Organic Coffee, and Cooperative Coffees.

Here’s a brief summary of some of the group’s activities:

  • Met with long-time friend and professional coffee grader Madlyn Madrid and her colleague Nestor Serrano at the Colombian Coffee Federation, learning about the country’s highly organized coffee industry, and the Federation’s central role in the lives of the country’s 500,000 plus coffee farmers.
  • That same afternoon, flew to Cali where we were met by our good friend and Fondo Paez board member Miguel Martinez, who guided us to Santander by bus. Santander is where the coop’s “acopio” is located – the place where the members’ coffee is collected for quality control and then shipped down en masse to the processing facility in Popayan.
  • Spent Tuesday at La Placa (our host site) meeting with selected members of Fondo Paez’ board to learn all about their cooperative, their community and its origins, and to share information about our companies and Cooperative Coffees.


Above: Board members of Fondo Paez and members of our delegation meet to discuss the Fondo Paez cooperative and community and share information.


Above: Long time friend, coffee farmer, and member of Fondo Paez, Miguel Martinez, presents coop’s 2009 annual report to the community’s members. The coop, despite the odds, once again showed a profit last year.

  • On Wednesday, traveled back to Santander to spend morning learning about Fondo Paez’ operations at their office/acopio at the Café Norte complex. Learned about their extraordinary quality control process, met several group managers responsible for delivering their respective communities’ coffees, and shared introductions among all present. That afternoon we returned to La Placa via bus, spending the afternoon playing with the kids at La Placa and learning about the history of the coop from Don Pedro, a coffee farmer, member of the board and all-around wonderful guy.
  • Thursday we headed to Chimicueto to meet with the 60 families that constitute the coop’s producer group there to participate in the annual report from the coop on their 2009 fiscal year. Report given by board members Miguel Martinez and Vacilio Medina. This five hour+ meeting included in-depth introductions by all present and a deep Q&A session that the community’s and delegation’s members took full advantage of to get to know each other. Departed Chimicueto at 3:30, passed by La Placa to gather bags and say goodbye to our friend Yuri who leads the administration of the coop and several of the board members and then drove to Fondo Paez’s office in Santander, where we spent the night. Ate vegetarian dinner at home-restaurant owned by one the of the board member’s sisters.


Above: Group photo after 5 hours of community meeting where Fondo Paez presented annual report to this community of 60 families who are members of Fondo Paez. Cafe Campesino delegation and the community’s members introductions and reciprocal Q&A!

  • The next day we visited Popayan for a tour led by good friend Wilman Sotelo, where we first went to Almecafe and met with plant coordinator Fernando Escobar Gomez and toured the facility. He drove us, along with a taxi afterwards, to Caficauca, where we met with the trilladora’s manager (a trilladora is where the coffee is dehusked, goes through final quality sorting and is bagged/prepped for export) and toured the facilities. We then departed for Popayan’s town center where we checked into our hotel. At lunch, Wilman explained the long history of Los Nasa – the name of the people who constitute Fond Paez and their surrounding reserves.
  • Spent a day in Cali and Bogota before returning to States on Sunday.

More on the relationship with Fondo Paez and other trading partners in next month’s edition of Fair Grounds.

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