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Producer Spotlight: Fondo Paez

April 19, 2019 by Posted in: Coffee, Environmental Stewardship

In 2005, Amavida bought coffee from the Fondo Paez cooperative for the first time. In 2019, we bought coffee from the group for the fourteenth year, making this one of our longest-running coffee grower partnerships.

It’s time you get to meet the Fondo Paez Cooperative and get to know the power of collective impact in coffee.

14 Years Of Great Tasting Coffee

If you’ve been drinking Amavida for a long time, you’ve almost certainly tasted coffee from Fondo Paez—probably a lot of it. Upwards of 10% of all the coffee we purchase each year comes from this Colombian co-op (multiple lots, spread out over the year). It tastes excellent, is reliably delicious year-after-year, and we love the relationship we’ve built with the farmers.

But 14 years is a long time to drink coffee from a single co-op, and sometimes it’s easy to forget how special something is when you become familiar with it.

This coffee is anything but ordinary.

In fact, with notes of pineapple, pear, and coconut, Fondo Paez’s coffee is some of the best organic and Fair Trade coffee we buy from Latin America!

Fondo Paez Does Things Differently

The Fondo Paez (“of the Paez”) cooperative was founded in 1992 and is made up of over 500 coffee producers from the Nasa, the largest indigenous group in Colombia.

Fondo Paez supports an economic model that’s pretty common in the world of coffee, but they stick to it in a way that’s not. Most cooperatives allow buyers to fly in, taste coffees, and identify specific microlots they’d like to purchase from a small number of farmers. Fondo Paez, on the other hand, has decided not to work this way.

They don’t want to sell a single farmer’s crop for a higher price at the expense of everyone else’s work receiving a lower price. If you want to buy from Fondo Paez, you buy from the  Fondo Paez cooperative as a whole (and not a single farmer).

This community-oriented model protects the entire group and spreads out investment among all the producers. They aren’t pursuing the highest price for the highest quality coffee no matter what—they’re pursuing economic equity and communal benefit.

Why This Relationship Is So Special To Us

In the last 14 years, Coop Coffees, the importing collective we’re an equal partner of with 24 other roasters, has purchased more than 2 million pounds of coffee from Fondo Paez—much of coming straight to Amavida.

Long-term relationships are at the foundation of Amavida’s mission to change the way coffees are imported. By prioritizing multi-year partnerships, we help coffee producers find the income security they need to take out loans, grow their businesses, and produce better coffee.

This model has enabled Coop Coffees to do some incredible things, like raise $650,000 with Root Capital to help producers around Latin America invest in technical training, field renovation, and composting. Coop Coffees also established the “Carbon, Climate, and Coffee” initiative two years ago to offset carbon emissions by helping our farm partners grow greener.

And with Fondo Paez, it meant we were able to invest $20,000 in African-style drying beds to assist in coffee processing.

Colombian coffee is exceptional, but the longevity of the green coffee is often compromised because of ineffective drying practices. This meant we occasionally saw quality drop faster than we wanted—so we partnered with Fondo Paez to build the drying beds in a move that helps everyone.

Now, Fondo Paez processes even better coffee and can sell it for a higher price on the international market. We get first dibs as a long-term partner to those stunning beans. Win-win!

Martin Traveled To Fondo Paez And Was Shocked

Martin Trejo has been our Director of Coffee for nearly four years, but he’s been with Amavida since 2010. He recently had the chance to visit Fondo Paez back in 2018 for the first time on a trip to see how Coop Coffees can further support the group—and what he found surprised him.

For the most part, the farms themselves were simple and rugged. They were not like some of the other farms Martin had been to with nice computer-operated machines.

“Fondo Paez produces some of the best Latin American coffee we have. I expected their setup to be more high-tech, but it wasn’t—a lot of the gear and systems were outdated—and yet the coffee is still incredible.”

It was immediately clear how organized and well-run the producer group is. Despite being limited to basic tools and farming practices, Fondo Paez producing stunning coffee.

“They have so much potential. If they can grow coffee like this now, I can’t wait to see what they can do as they gain access to better equipment and systems.”

Fondo Paez grows some of our top Latin American beans—taste them for yourself here!