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Helping farmers to share their workload in Jardín, Colombia

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Working with key partners, we have built new milling facilities that bring coffee farmers together to improve the consistency of coffee quality and reduce the environmental impacts of coffee processing in Jardín, Colombia.

Nestled deep in the Andes, 1,400 metres above sea level, is Jardín, a community of coffee farmers, whose families have been growing coffee for many generations. A landscape once defined by larger coffee farms, today, the average plot is just 2.5 hectares. Yet despite the relatively small size of the farms, individual farmers have traditionally completed their own milling and drying, which transforms the coffee from a cherry to a bean is important. However, processing coffee on the farm is not only labour intensive, but neither is it the best way to guarantee the highest quality coffee beans. This can have a negative impact on the farmers’ income if they are not able to secure the premiums for high quality coffee.

But last year, smallholders belonging to the AAA community in Jardín approached Nespresso with the idea of cooperative processing. And so a partnership that included Nespresso, regional and national farming associations, NGOs, international development organisations and our coffee supplier, was launched to work together to build a central mill for farmers in Jardín.

The foundation stone laid in July 2010 and the central mill completed in November 2010, the project brings a number of benefits to the farmers, their families and the environment. Because of better milling techniques, the new mill not only enables farmers to double their volume of AAA Sustainable Quality™ standard coffee, thereby securing a higher premium and so earning a higher income, but they can also spend more time on farm management. There’s a personal benefit too, because the milling and drying of the coffee beans is now done by employees at the central mill, so the farmers get to spend more time with their families. There’s also an environmental benefit, because wastewater will be treated at the central mill and the leftover pulp from the milling process will be used as compost. All these developments help to ensure that smallholder farmers in Jardín are producing the highest quality coffee, more sustainably. This means they can earn a higher income and secure a better future for themselves and their communities.

Testimonial: Luis Alfonso, Coffee Farmer

I have been with Nespresso since the beginning. My daughter is studying to become a nurse and the three others are still at school. I no longer have any children working on the farm. I get up every day at five o’clock in the morning, milk the cows and take breakfast to my workers. Before, I used to have to work the full day up to five o’clock in the evening, but now I no longer process my own coffee cherries. They are delivered straight to the co-operative the day they are harvested and I have free time to grow my own vegetables and bananas.

When I was still processing my own coffee, I had to depulp it immediately after harvesting and ferment it to get rid of its mucilage, like you blanch a tomato before removing its skin. I then had to wash it within twelve hours (or it started to rot) and run it through a water-based sorting system to separate out the good beans – the over-ripe coffee floats and takes a different path to the rest. Next came the drying stage, in a clean area. At this point in the process, the coffee is always like a sponge and absorbs everything around it. If, for example, you dry it with your washing under a glass canopy, it will take on the flavour of washing powder.

Luis Alfonso, Coffee Farmer, Jardín

Abstract from Julien Bouré's article in Nespresso Magazine

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