- On December 2, 2016
- barista, barista life, Coffee, coffee farms, coffee sourcing, csr, giving back, holiday, schools, sourcing
By Diane Contreras, Director of Training
If you’ve tried Colombian coffee you know what a treat it was to take a trip to the source. That’s why this past summer we took a unique trip to source Colombian coffee from it’s origin, visiting specialty coffee farms in Colombia. Usually our sourcing trips involve our Green Buyer traveling solo on a quest for the best coffees available, but this time we were not in search of new sources. For the first time as a young coffee roasting company, we were on a trip focused on connecting two very different (but related) worlds: baristas and farmers.
It’s important to understand that the farmer is the first hand that touches any coffee and baristas are the last hand that touches it before the customer receives it. Both are vitally important in creating a great cup of coffee, yet these two parts of the chain hardly get the opportunity to meet. We wanted to change that, because, well, wouldn’t you want to know who grew the product that you worked with day in and day out? To have the opportunity for our baristas to thank our farmers for their hard work, for their dedication to quality, and to be able shake their hand and get to know them. Now they are connected, truly connected in a whole new way.
Visiting Farms & Donating to Schools
During our trip in Colombia we traveled to two coffee farms whose beans create our delicious cold brew: Finca Villa Bernada and Finca El Ocaso. These farms were important to visit for the farm-level experience, but even more-so because of the community surrounding these coffees. Many of you may have known that ten percent of our cold brew proceeds goes toward providing school supplies and medical and dental benefits for the children attending the elementary schools adjacent to these farms. As a barista, we talk about this ten percent system on a regular basis with our customers, but to actually sit with these kids, laugh with them, and play futbol was a pivotal moment in understanding what it means to be a coffee professional and was a once in a lifetime experience.
At one of the schools visited, we took part in demonstrating how to brush your teeth properly. I can still hear the giggles as the kids tried their best to brush off all the pink dye applied to identify plaque build-up. Then, as the children waited to see the medical physician on site for their annual physical, we had the chance to sit and really talk with them. We learned about their favorite songs, sports, subjects, and friends. In turn, they asked us so many questions just like any kid would do, that a broken kind of Spanglish formed amongst us to keep the conversations genuine, meaningful, and introspective.
When it came time to leave, we didn’t want to. How many more times were we going to have to say goodbye to such awesome kids? When we hopped back on the van, our little buddies kept waving goodbye and chasing after the car, still smiling.
Building Community Through the Best Coffee
Six hours later we arrived at El Ocaso, one of the first farms we sourced Colombian coffee from. This would be the first time the Vigilante Team (Anna (barista), Diane (Director of Training), Charlie (Production Manager) would be hosted at El Ocaso family-owned coffee farm. To say the least, the level of hospitality blew our minds and taught us all a little something about how to treat others and truly connect.
The entire experience was simply worth more than the amount it took to send baristas to Colombia; from the owners of the coffee farm, to the women who prepared all the meals, to the farmers we bonded with as we picked the ripest coffee cherries together. In some form, we all wished we could stay and figure out a way to extend our Vigilante familia to the farm level.
To be a coffee professional these days, is more than learning about specialty coffee and understanding the craft. It is about building community through the best coffee we can find and ultimately bringing both of these worlds together, from seed to cup.
To support the farms we visited and taste amazing coffee visit our shop.