Colombia La Cristalina Natural
FINCA LA CRISTALINA
The three Valdes family farms—Parana, La Cristalina, and San Pablo—are highly technified properties, with admirable levels of production thanks to their combined total of 421,000 trees, 142,000 of which grow on Finca La Cristalina. Each year portions of the farm are replanted, always keeping in mind biodiversity and the environment. The ecological mill is where washed lots of coffee are depulped, and the pulp is placed in a compost treatment to be converted to organic fertilizer for the coffee trees. Coffee cultivation complements a system of regulated shade with tree species, including walnut, red cedar, and guava, which create habitats for many species of birds. Finca Cristalina plants black cedar, a tree at risk for extinction, from its own nursery in the coffee fields. The post-harvest registration system on the farm permits full traceability of each lot. Parana is the oldest of the three farms and has been in the family for more than one hundred years, today belonging to the fourth generation. Silvio Valdes was the original owner, and upon his death, his property was left to his five children, some of whom sold their portions. But, beginning in 1960, the sold portions were re-purchased and by 1999 the full family legacy had been recuperated.
Caldas is one of Colombia’s principal coffee-growing Departments. Along with neighboring Risaralda and Quindío, it forms part of the “coffee axis” or “coffee triangle,” indicating the important coffee activities—from research to social support programs to freeze-drying to dry milling—that take place in the area, which is, in turn, part of the Coffee Cultural Landscape, recognized by UNESCO as a World Coffee Cultural Heritage site. Caldas’ rolling landscape is defined by slopes planted with coffee. High, chilly cities and towns sit along mountain ridges, where smallholder farms and mid-sized estates are planted with predominantly monoculture coffee, protected from the excess sun by the region’s near-constant misty cloud cover. Many programs of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation have their official seats in Caldas, including the Cenicafe research facility. Many farms in Caldas are comparatively accessible by the main road, facilitating speed of processing and export. The Department is home to many respected universities and coffee producers have access to many business and education resources. The city of Chinchiná is also home to one of Ally’s Colombian export partners, Compañía Cafetalera La Meseta, a family business run by the five Muñoz siblings.
Colombia La Cristalina Natural This coffee came by way of our former employee and friend Dean at Ally Coffee. Ally’s buyer Elena, who lives in Bogota, flags coffees that meet our standard and profile from time to time and Dean facilitates the sale. We paid $7.06 per pound and Ally brought them stateside. We also purchased a Natural and Washed from the same farm. We cupped this lot as an 87.75 and purchased ten 25-kilo bags.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.05/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available. - Jon
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do. In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out from the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices. We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards. We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve. We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options. We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount. We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage up front upon contracting. We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee. We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.