Aponte coffees are a collaborative effort between the team at Cooperativa de Cafes Especiales de Nariño in the city of Buesaco and the coffee growers from the small town of Aponte, two hours further up the mountains, located within the Inga Resguardo Aponte on land belonging to the Inga indigenous group. Ally Coffee has been partnering with Aponte for many harvests has had the pleasure of visiting the community and its farms on sourcing trips, the 2017 Producer to Producer to exchange trip with coffee producers from Brazil, and the the 2018 Coffee Champ trip.
For several years, the Aponte community has been living with the destructive effects of a fault line opening through the town. Almost like a slow-moving earthquake, the mountains shift and a giant gap has opened in the land that runs through the town’s center, damaging community and private buildings, including the local church and many homes.
Efforts to rebuild are stalled because of uncertainty in where the fault line will progress next. Because the town is so far from urban centers, government help has also been slow to arrive. Despite the added challenge, the coffee growers in Aponte, an overwhelmingly agricultural community, have continued to produce exceptional coffees and exceptional amounts of them.
The coffee producers in Aponte process coffee as both fully Washed and Honey. Each producer has a small mill area for depulping, washing, and drying on their farms. They process coffee daily as it comes freshly harvested from the trees. In Colombia it is common for cherries to be processed on the farms where they are grown. Coffee trees are typically planted right up to the walls of the mill and cherries usually go straight from harvest buckets into the hopper.
After being depulped from its cherry but not washed, Honey processed coffee is dried on wooden tiered raised beds covered with a protective plastic layer. To begin encouraging producers to adopt this processing method, Co-op Especiales raffled off several model drying beds, one of which went to Doña Luz, whose home and coffee drying area are near the center of town. These first raffled beds demonstrated the steps of Honey processing to other producers. Many Aponte producers process their coffees as both Honey and Washed. All lots are cupped at the Co-op Especiales office in Buesaco.
Fernando Ordoñez is the co-op’s liaison with Aponte, and he noted that specialty coffee is particularly important to Aponte because the town is essentially the end of the road, and further up into the mountains farming tends to produce illegal crops. The stronger the purchasing power of the co-op, the more opportunity it creates for landowners to have a sustainable, legal livelihoods. Fernando himself works three farms: one inherited from his father, one he purchased, and one he manages for a neighbor.
Ally Coffee is proud to partner with the Aponte community and Co-op Especiales to offer these exceptional coffees to the world’s roasters.Producer Adan Muñoz