It’s Coffee Labs’ goal to work with farmers and organizations that work to create quality coffee while also caring about sustainability for farmers, workers and their surrounding environment. We’ve been in business for over 15 years and this has always been our guiding principle. It was also the guiding principle for many others who were entering the industry at that time, and lots of progress has been occurred.
Glady's Gruz, a Farmer with La Palma Y El Tucan
The Long Miles Coffee Project of Burundi, Aida Batlle of El Salvador, and Bryan Orellana of Honduras all share this common goal of sustainability, but for this article we want to focus on an organization that exemplifies these principles. La Palma y El Tucan of Colombia.
La Palma Y El Tucan is not a farming or growing organization themselves, but a kind of agency that helps growers and farmers in the region fetch a higher price for their crop while protecting the environment. To accomplish this, they incentivize sustainable practices on farms with bonuses on top of market coffee prices. Farmers on the ground can provide a better life for their family and their workers by working with organizations like La Palma.
Jamie Molina, a farmer with La Palma Y El Tucan
Coffee Labs enjoys working with La Palma for two reasons. First off, the coffee speaks for itself. The programs and practices they use work, and you can taste it in every cup. They are also incredibly dedicated to sustainability. As a crop, coffee wants to be sustainable. Sustainability practices help the coffee’s quality rather than detracting from it. La Palma is an organization that exemplifies that principle.
As mentioned above, one of the main things La Palma Y El Tucan does to encourage sustainability is to pay the growers that work with them a much higher price for their coffee than the national average in Colombia. This price is often as much as seventy percent higher. Premium coffee comes at a premium price, and with La Palma it works. Farmers participating in the program receive the following bonuses on top of the national base price for their crop.
Quality Premium (If the coffee meets a certain standard): 18.75%
Loyalty Premium (If farmers work with La Palma for consecutive years: 15%
Organic Premium (Pesticide and Herbicide free farming): 11.25%
Organic Composting Premium (Using organic compost only on farms: 37.5%
For a little technical explanation, the national base price in Colombia is a price set daily by the Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia. They are a federal organization owned 100% by coffee growers that governs the cultivation and defends their best interests. You might even recognize their logo from the “Juan Valdez” ad campaigns. La Palma pays above the prices set by the federation for serious premium coffee.
Nicolas Cortes, a La Palma farmer and a La Palma representative
In addition to this added pay for premium coffee, La Palma also covers transportation for workers as part of the quality cherry-picking premium. This takes transportation out of a farmer’s bottom line and helps them further.
So what makes all of this so important for the coffee industry in Colombia? Why is it necessary? It’s the affect of climate change. Last year, Colombia experienced one of the worst droughts in its history due to an El Niño event. These events have been getting worse and worse in the past decades, and affect the rains and entire weather pattern of the region. A major issue this caused in Colombia was a massive 15-month dry season which resulted in wild fires that ravaged about 190,000 hectares of forest.
Honestly, it’s a miracle we got any coffee at all this year. Crop production was down almost 40% because of that. The dedication of La Palma y El Tucan to fighting against and adapting to climate change in any way they can is the reason we have worked with them in the past and the reason we will keep coming back to them year after year.