Colombia Narino | Homero Benavides
Tasting notes: Notes of tangerine, honey and chocolate, known for intense aroma & high acidity and sweetness
Roast: Light roast
Story of the farm:
Nariño is a mountainous region with deep chasms and is Colombia’s most southwestern province. It borders Ecuador in the south and the Pacific Ocean in the east. It's cold temperatures make coffee grow more slowly and, as a result, produce additional sugars that lead to an exquisitely mild coffee. It has been said, “The heart of Colombian coffee sits in the mountains of Nariño.” In fact, Nariño is the first coffee region in Colombia to earn recognition as as a regional denomination of origin.
According to the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, Origin Status Denominations mark agricultural products whose qualities are associated with their place of origin. The CCGF states, “Besides natural features like climate and soil conditions, denominations of origin also involve human, cultural and traditional attributes which are reflected on the development and harvesting processes of the product.” Nariño is home to more than 34,000 coffee growers who devotedly care for their land and harvest a uniquely sweet coffee.
Nariño typically houses a great number of producers, each with a small plantation, under one hectare in size on average. They are small farms and families have been growing coffee for generations, painstakingly looking after their farms. Since the area is so large, infrastructure minimal, and the crop cycle extended, most growers wash, ferment, and dry their own coffees, taking them to be sorted and graded once they have large enough lots.
The final product is highly valued by producers, which generates pride in the community and is carefully selected in each stage of its production. The producers’ dedication and the size of the farms help to explain the particularities of this coffee. The coffee farmers’ culture in this area shares certain influences, derived from their pre-Hispanic ancestors and Andean culture, which is known by anthropologists as a complementary duality. This duality is reflected in the rural mentality of locating their farms at different altitudes and, thus, plant complementary crops which, in turn, also lead to smallholding plantations.
That is, coffee production here is an almost artisanal process undertaken by the coffee grower and his or her family as well as other members of the community with whom he or she shares the workload. These cycles, distributed by task assignment, make for a tradition that has played a part in influencing the quality of the product and, thus, the recognition and reputation of Café de Nariño, a 100% washed Arabica and mild coffee, planted at great altitudes, picked selectively and wet-milled on coffee farms
The most deeply rooted traditions of this land include a love for the earth and are a clear result of the influence of the pre-Hispanic inhabitants, whereby the geographic borders of the region have helped to ensure that people keep their cultural roots and their behavior and accents, very particular to this region. This regional independence, influenced by its geographic location as a border region, is reflected in generating a special sense of community whereby the workforce is community based and more efficient. The latter is reflected in the social model which operates under a system called borrowed hands, which directly influences cultural labor related to coffee and the harvesting processes. This exchange of work also serves to strengthen the social foundations of the region.
As you can see in the Coffee Journey - Virtual Trip to Origins®, the regions’ producers are friendly to visitors. Also, their community spirit allows them to undertake other collective projects that may not be directly related to coffee production. The coffee growers’ Municipal and Departmental Committees, supported by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, undertake Sustainability that Matters programs that benefit the whole community. In the next section we explore these projects and programs.
Homero Benavides from Nariño, Colombia. Homero grows this coffee on his farm at 1950m in the southern part of the country, near the Ecuadorian border. He is well known in the local farming community for his outreach projects with Alianza Cafe. Together they work on improving farmers’ lives with advice on farm management, waste reduction, sustainability. Homero is also well known for his daily 12 km climb up the Juanambu Cañon on his old trusty steel bicycle
Homero Benavides is a passionate coffee producer and cyclist. Even at 61 years of age, he still rides his bike up the 12 kilometer Juanambú canon each day. He works closely with the association that his family founded, Alianza Café, a producers’ association formed to improve the lives of its members through technical advice in farm management, waste reduction, and environmental protection. Don Homero is a crucial member of the Buesaco community and is heavily involved in Alianza’s outreach programs. His farm, Loma Guaico, producers mostly Castillo and Caturra which is washed, fermented for 24 hours and dried on patios. The farm is about 2 hectares and has 8,000 trees in production.