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La Esperanza – January, 2006

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For years Colombia coffee has been marketed as the best coffee in the world. However it hasn’t been until now that I’ve tasted coffees from Colombia deserving of this reputation. In October we received over 30 samples of Colombian coffees that were going to the Cup of Excellence auction. A few of us at the Stumptown cupped them at the Annex on Belmont Street and, for the first time, tasted Colombia coffees deserving of the title “The Richest Coffees in the World”.

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There were two coffee lots I fell in love with at our tasting that I was bidding on at auction time. When the dust settled, Stumptown out bid the other roasters for these two coffees, and we’re bringing them to Portland Oregon. As always, Stumptown pays our farmers the highest prices in the Industry for coffee. Were also looking to start relationships with these farms who are just as passionate about growing coffees as we are about roasting them. So after the holidays I packed my bags and headed down to Colombia to meet the farmers and their families who produced these two amazing coffee lots.

Traveling to source is never really easy but when everything clicks, it’s all worthwhile. After a long flight to Bogotá I flew to Manizalles then back to Bogotá because of bad weather then rerouted to Cali while having my wallet stolen in between. From there traveled by car through the valley of sugar cane towards the Valle DE Cauca mountain range, or “cordilleras”. At the foot of the cordilleras we switched rigs, needing something tough that would be able to get us over rivers, washed out roads and mud slides. A Suzuki Samari; that’s right, it was going to be our mule. I was willing to take what we could get.

There was no way I was going to hike into those cordilleras. Here in Colombia I kinda stick out like a sore thumb. I know in Portland I don’t look much better but here in Colombia the state dept advised me not to travel where I was heading. Two hours drive in side the central part of the cordilleras over potholes, mudslides and suspension bridges made of 2 × 4’s we arrived at Finca La Esperanza. Tucked up in a tiny corner of the mountains we were greeted by Oscar Humberto Aguedelo the owner of this tiny farm.

The whole family was gathered around. Everybody seemed a bit nervous with looks of “what the heck is this gringo doing here?. Juan Carlos my interpreter started to explain that I was the fella who purchased La Esperanza on the Colombia Cup of Excellence auction. The looks of uncertainty turned to smiles as Oscar grabbed my hand patting my shoulder with the other. There is a saying in Colombia that when something miraculous happens one sees the Virgin Mary. Oscar said this when he found out the Stumptown paid the price we paid at auction for La Esperanza. With the price Stumptown paid Oscar, he’ll be able to make improvements to his farm so to continue to produce high quality coffee as well as provide a better life for his family. After a tour of the farm we all sat around on the porch eating dolce leche and talking about next years crop. Growing and processing coffee is in Oscar’s blood. He inherited La Esperanza from his father and dreams of teaching his sons the craft and patience of growing and processing coffee. Oscar said he was committed to producing spectacular coffee for years to come and hopes the Stumptown will consider buying La Esperanza in the future. I gave my word I would return during next harvest and that the Stumptown is looking forward to working with Oscar and La Esperanza in the future.

Feliz Anos.

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