This month Rachel Fletcher, one of our Retail Managers, along with our partners at Cafeology, who exclusively supply us with a unique blend of coffee, took an eight day trip to Colombia. This was arranged by TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation. They were joined by representatives from TUCO and six other institutions from around the country to visit the Colombian farms and see where our coffee beans begin their journey.

The trip began in Medellin, where the group visited coffee farms high up in the mountains and got to see the working conditions for the first time.

They later met with locals who had all kinds of incredible stories to share – including one man who was once kidnapped by a local cartel, a reminder of the dangers faced by the farmers and communities working in the area.

After a short and enlightening stay in Medellin the team travelled to the city of Popayan.

Sign for the City of Popayan

Upon arrival in Popayan the team were met by Juan Carlos and Paola. Juan Carlos had previously visited the UK in 2019 where we gave him a tour of the University and Cafeology. Both Juan Carlos and Paola work for CENCOIC, a Co-operative that support indigenous communities in the Cauca region.

This region is made up of thousands of indigenous farmers who work alongside the CENCOIC Cooperative to help improve their working conditions, income and quality of life. This has been particularly important for female farmers, as historically in their culture men would own the farms and receive the income whilst women would do the bulk of the labour.

One of the ways CENCOIC support the farmers is through the teaching centre they run. Here farmers can learn about the best techniques for growing high quality coffee so that they can sell their produce at better prices. CENCOIC also provide farmers with better equipment, invest in local communities, supporting and encouraging children’s education and provide medication and hospital supplies at fair prices.

Being a non-profit organisation, they prioritise ensuring a better quality of life for indigenous communities.

Group photo of visitors with hosts.

As the trip progressed the group witnessed the entire process of the coffee beans being grown and harvested, and got involved to better appreciate the hard work that goes into it. They joined a team of farmers to pick coffee beans themselves, and then painstakingly sorted through each individual bean to separate the good from the bad.

They also enjoyed a taste-testing session, where they were able to sample coffees made with beans from different local farms, and visited the very warehouse that all of our coffee comes through before being shipped to us here in Sheffield.

Upon returning Rachel said, “It was an amazing trip and a real privilege to meet the farmers, they were incredibly generous with their hospitality and time. I look forward to sharing my appreciation of the work that goes into harvesting our coffee beans with the rest of the team.”

We’d like to thank CENCOIC and Cafeology for their hospitality, and are looking forward to our continued relationship.