Colombian coffee is some of the most famous in the world, known for it’s smooth, balanced flavors that please all kinds of coffee lovers. But what about the Colombian people? What is their relationship to the coffee they grow?
Today’s post was contributed by Juan Camilo, a Colombian photographer from the area where our Colombia San Roque single-origin is produced. With photos and words (translated from Spanish), Juan explores the relationship of producers to their plants, and of people to their “tinto,” the Colombian name for coffee shared among friends.
“Coffee where I come from – Colombia – is more than merely a product to consume, it’s a key piece of the economy, and a tool for social relations. Who hasn’t gone into a Colombian home and been met with the simple question, “Tinto?” Or further, the use of the diminutive “-ico” to add a greater level of hospitality: “Tintico?” For those who don’t know what I’m referring to, know that this is a positive reference in Colombia, a common refrain of the people and their coffee.
And it’s this little question that we’ve seen before, a question repeated in so many millions of homes in my country that it may seem absurd. It constitutes an important role in our social relations, because in a sense, it is an opening to dialogue. If someone does not offer you tinto, it’s directly because, as a general rule, they do not enjoy your company. And in terms of economic matters – innumerable homes subsist thanks to the coffee industry, or at least earn a significant part of their monthly income from it.
A normal day in the coffee-growing regions, such as my town of Oporapa, Huila, in the southern mountains of Colombia, normally involves moving tons of coffee for the eventual sale of it. People are trying to have something to eat. This is a normal day: the life of a coffee farmer is not easy. It’s not simple to try and grow good coffee, especially if you have problems on your hands such as weather, or pests, or lack of resources. However, growing coffee is a fascinating science and culture. In these photographs, I capture some of the places, paths, efforts, and people whose lives are dedicated to producing some of the best coffee I have ever had the luck to try. (You should try it, too.)
In my experiences in the world of coffee, without people producing this valuable treasure from seed, none of this would be possible, and even less without the positive attitude of these people. Everywhere I looked, I found people that were very happy, full of vitality despite a life of suffering. If we owe them anything, it’s the recognition that without them, the coffee that we consume would not be possible. And this goes for all the coffee producers in the world: I am certain that if something is done with passion and with love, the result must be noted. These people take care of the details of their coffee, so much so that if they see something wrong with one of their plants, they don’t hesitate to put their hands on it to help it. Such is their dedication that sometimes they do not care about the money, but only that their coffee keep living, because this legacy is beyond a product in coffee-growing countries, it is their identity.
I hope you enjoy the images.”
– Juan Camilo