Don Jairo Murillo started in coffee 20 years ago with nothing. Over the years, he worked hard and saved every available dime. Little by little he was able to slowly purchase, plot by plot, what is now one of the largest farms in this region of small farmers. He works his farm, Buena Vista (Good View) with his entire family and seeks to produce the very best coffee that he can from this privileged but remote part of Antioquia, in Colombia’s Northwest.
Jairo is a member of the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Salgar (Coocafisa), a large Colombian cooperative that represents some 3,000 growers across Antioquia. Coocafisa is one of the only cooperatives with a presence in Caicedo municipality, which neighbours Urrao: both municipalities were hard hit by FARC violence in the 1990s due to its remote location and lack of infrastructure. While the region is known for agriculture, it is less identified with coffee, and because of the remote location and the violence, the area has been slow to develop the necessary infrastructure for specialty production. With the steps towards normalization between FARC and the Colombian Government, however, some small scale producers in the region have seized the opportunity and begun to make the most of their location.
In addition to producing his own stellar microlot, Jairo contributes towards collective lots composed of some of the best lots of producers from the Caicedo area. He works with a group of around 30 producers from Caicedo who are all Coocafisa members but who have decided to work together to improve the quality of their coffee and, thus, to access the better prices that speciality markets allow. With the help of Santa Barbara Estates and Pergamino Coffee Exporters, Mercanta’s partner in Antioquia, the group has gone from strength to strength and has been able to engage in a long term quality improvement project. Not only has Santa Barbara committed to monthly visits to the group in order to cup and advise on quality, they have committed to purchasing all coffee produced by the group that cups at 86+ points. For this coffee, the producers receive an exceptionally high price that covers cost of production along with reinvestment in the cooperative itself and includes a specialty coffee premium once the purchased lot has been sold. This has led, in very little time, to a transparent and consistent relationship with the group and the discovery of some amazing profiles, such as this lot offered by Jairo. Mercanta is eager to support these efforts and has regularly purchased speciality microlots from individual producers. Mercanta is proud to offer these to the market and to draw much deserved attention to these producers’ hard work, and they will continue to support the group as they strive to improve and increase their specialty production.