Colombia San Jose
Brown sugar. Maple syrup. This coffee boasts deep sugar browning sweetness, as well as a layered citric acidity to balance out the depth of sweetness. It's no wonder this region is what motivated the creation of Red Fox Coffee Merchants. This coffee is the product of a twelve-year relationship with the Asorcafe Producer's Association, and that experience all adds up to an incredibly complex and sweet coffee. See for yourself.
Region: Cauca Inzá
Producer: Asorcafe Producer's Association
Process: Washed & Raised-bed Dried
Elevation: 1750 - 1900 meters
Variety: Caturra, Bourbon, Colombia, Typica
Cup: Tangerine, Maple, Grape, Dried Cherry
Under the towering Nevado del Huila lies the village of Inzá, to the east the Paez river runs through the valley. It is here where many smallholders produce mainly Caturra variety coffee growing at a soaring 1900 MASL. Three villages make up the portion of this coffee, Pedregal, San Antonio, and the town of Inzá. Back in 2004, the small-holders that produce coffee in this region were tired of selling coffee at a very low price, (see the Coffee Crisis of 2001) prompting them to form Asorcafe, which provides aid to members through subsidies for education, job training, and healthcare.
THE COFFEE CRISIS OF 2001
In September of 2001, the coffee commodity price hit $0.41/lb. The lowest it had been in 100 years, creating a real emergency in coffee-producing countries around the world. This dramatic price dip caused a crisis not just because it cut into producer's profit margins (which are frequently razor-thin) but because it passed this crucial threshold that is called the cost of production. The cost of production is a number that is contested and debated around the globe, and in reality, it differs pretty widely from region to region, producer to producer, and country to country. We have seen a range from $1.05 - $1.40 /lb, which given the .40 cent market price in the summer of 2001, puts the price of coffee well below what it takes for farmers to produce it. In short, farmers were losing a lot of money to grow coffee. Much of the world's coffee is grown by small-holder producers, people or families that own a small farm. They're particularly vulnerable to low prices due to their limited buying power and their limited access to financing. Something crucial for making investments in procuring fertilizer and other essential things which will improve crop quality for the following harvest.
When farmers can't invest in their farms, the effects snowball year after year. Lack of income leaves them open to things like leaf rust, a coffee tree disease which can decimate coffee farms and production. This oftentimes leads producers away from growing coffee and into food production like Hass avocados or bananas. Its effect can also drive the younger generation away from farming coffee, which drives the question; who will grow our coffee when the current generation of underpaid producers are gone?
One thing is certain; this generation of coffee drinkers have not felt the consequences of the 2001 price crisis. Coffee is as ubiquitous as ever, but with coffee commodity price around $1, the consolidation of farms and reduced production due to disease and climate change, that may not be the case for very long...