A Few Questions With… Jose Gomez

“A Few Questions With…” is a series featuring some of Ally’s partners across the globe. Our goal is to get to know the people who make coffee happen a little better, to talk about their work, and to look forward toward their vision of where coffee is headed. We’re thankful for these relationships that we get to be a part of, and excited to have the opportunity to let these folks tell you about themselves in their own words.
The following responses have been edited for clarity.

Jose Gomez is a second generation coffee producer and Co-Founder/Commercial Manager of coffee co-op and exporter Promotora de Café de Altura S.A.S. in Nariño, Colombia. Jose grew up in a coffee producing family and developed a good palate and eye for coffee early on. He began growing his own crops in 2009 at his Finca El Paraiso in Vereda El Naranjal, Nariño, near the town of Buesaco, cultivating coffee across 6.5 hectares of land and processing his harvests using a micro wet mill and custom solar dryer he constructed on the property.

Jose’s Promotora de Café de Altura S.A.S. is based in Buesaco where it has its offices, cupping lab, dry mill, and warehouse. The co-op works to build, promote, and lead the development of coffee production in Nariño with a focus on making coffee a profitable and environmentally sustainable business model. Along with building quality community lots grown by the area’s smallholder producers, Jose and the co-op have also worked throughout the years to expand on the diversity of coffee produced in Nariño by introducing varieties like Gesha to farms like Finca El Paraiso and Pablo Guerrero’s Hacienda El Obraje beginning in 2010, resulting in highly sought-after microlots like Pablo’s 2022 Colombian Cup of Excellence winner.

We began working with Jose in 2014, and are proud to be able to continue to share the many lots that he works to produce, source, and export with coffee drinkers across the globe.

Jose Gomez with dog at Finca El ParaisoJose Gomez with a friend at Finca El Paraiso

Ally: Where does your farm name come from?
Jose: El Paraiso was first owned by my uncle, who bought it in the late 70s. The farm didn't have any coffee back then and in the early 80s he started planting Caturra and conventional varieties to sell commercial coffee. During the late 80s, he was kidnapped and by the time he was freed he ended up selling the farm in '94. Back then, the farm's name was Loma Linda, and the new owners changed the name to El Paraiso. I was friends with the new owners, and when they put it on sale in 2009, I bought it and kept the name because I liked it. We started harvesting coffee that same year and planted different varieties in 2011.

A: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
J: Taking care of my family and spending time with my kids and wife.

A: What’s your favorite food to have with coffee?
J: Cake or envuelto de choclo.

Coffee cherries after anaerobic processing at Finca El ParaisoCoffee cherries after anaerobic processing at Finca El Paraiso

A: What does coffee mean to you?
J: Everything. Coffee is our living and what I'll leave for my children. It's my life and what runs through my veins and what makes the community grow. We also want to help improve the national consumption and [see] that some of the good coffee stays [in Colombia] instead of exporting everything. Some of my friends and family have gotten used to good quality coffee and don't drink regular coffee anymore.

A: How has your work as a producer and exporter changed as a result of your relationship with importers and roasters??
J: A lot, it's been a whole life-changing experience. I'm the son of a producer and he never had a bigger vision of coffee. He used to only sell parchment. But now, thanks to Ally, we've had the opportunity to learn and take a turn in our lives and relationships. Now we have a different vision of the business and realize that coffee has no boundaries and can reach any part of the world. The world of coffee is very complex and there's room for everyone to contribute and work together.

Bags of coffee in the Promotora de Café de Altura warehouse

Bags of coffee in the Promotora de Café de Altura warehouse

A: What has changed in your perspective as a coffee grower and exporter over the past five or ten years?
J: Everything. 10 years ago people would just harvest the coffee and didn't know anything about quality. Now, the perspective in the business is totally different, there's been a complete change in businesses and harvesting, and as producers, we've noticed that there's still a lot to know and experiment with. Before, we didn't think we could produce good quality coffee. But now we do and we're aiming to be within the top best coffees.

A: What is one message you’d like to share with the coffee community?
J: I want to thank everyone in the coffee community, for the change they've made in the industry and the acceptance there's been of our coffees. I also want to ask them to keep learning about the producers and the process of coffee. There are many people involved to make a cup of coffee and many times the final consumer doesn't understand the magnitude behind it. If they understood, the scale would be fairer towards the producers. I also want to invite everyone to come to the origin and know more about the whole process.

Jose in the drying area of Finca El ParaisoJose in the drying area of Finca El Paraiso

A: What do you hope to see for the future of your farm?
J: There's a lot I hope for. I hope to be [in] the top best coffees in the country and the world. We've seen that the farm has improved a lot because people used to say coffee from this area wasn't good. We believed that and started selling commercial coffee, but with time, we noticed that the quality was getting better. I believe that there aren't good or bad coffees, but rather producers that can improve their harvests.

A: What do you hope to see for the future of Promotora de Cafe de Altura?
J: To keep expanding and growing. To keep teaching producers and sharing experiences. We've got the doors open for people to come and learn, so we can keep working together and supporting each other.

A: What do you hope to see for the future of coffee more broadly?
J: A more knowledgeable market, one that's more even with the producer. Increased consumption, [more domestic specialty] consumption as well as improved production. And that the generational change doesn't have a negative impact on the future of coffee.

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