Antioquia, Colombia. 2015.

“Coffee – to some it causes insomnia, to others – helps make dreams come true” says an old colombian proverb.

For more than half a million Colombians, coffee is the means of survival. For the whole nation – their national identity. The whole world knows, that the colombian coffee is one of the best. Few realize why. Although the origins of coffee are in Ethiopia, colombian climate prove to be the best for its most delicate kind – arabica.

Coffee is cultivated on the altitude of 1200-2000m, where high moisture, frequent rains, constant temperature (15-25 C) and a lot of sunshite create perfect conditions. Furthermore, volcanic soil and shade add up to the specific acidity. Favorable conditions come with price though – steep andean slopes make it impossible to automate the cultivation, as it is in Brazil for example. The whole process of cultivation has to be carried out manually. On one hand this guarantees highest quality possible – on the other – causes murderous work. And the wages are low.

95% of colombian plantations are little family farms, owing no more than few thousand coffee trees. Most of the cultivators do not drink their coffee – they do not know, how to roast it. They sell all their produce and buy instant coffee, which is made of the worst sort of coffee beans – from waste. Slowly, thanks to educational programmes, the scene is changing – which still improves the quality of colombian coffee. For an average Colombian it does not matter though. Best coffee beans are exported from Colombia. Internally only the worst sort of beans are sold.

But this is slowly changing as well.

Grand Prix

The trip to Antioquia was an award for winning the Grand Prize at the Oregon Coffee Board Photo Contest 2015, sponsored by the Gobierno de Antioquia.

Below is the winning photo.