Tierradentro: Coffee from ASPROFECH

by Elena Lokteva, Colombia specialty coffee buyer

Ally Coffee is excited to announce our newest producer partnership with the smallholders of ASPROFECH in the mountains along the Cuaca-Huila border in Colombia to bring you fully traceable Tierradentro specialty coffee.

ASPROFECH is the Association of Christian Producers of Specialty Coffee from Eastern Cauca, representing over 60 families from the township of San Luis, in the county of Paez (Belalcazar), known as part of the Tierradentro Archeological Reserve together with the county of Inza, located in the Northeast of Cauca Department, Cordillera Central in Colombia’s central range of the Andes mountains.

The area within Tierradentro National Archeological park was proclaimed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995 together with the San Agustin Archeological park to the southeast in the Huila department. The Tierradentro province is one of the most important sites for pre-Columbian culture formed by its main native settlements of Nasa Nation and Guambiano Indians that stretche along the Paez River and played a great role in the establishment of the townships of Inza, Belalcazar, Silvia and San Luis, among others.

Thanks to a complex topographical structure with a mix of highlands, plateaus, paramos, and valleys along the Paez River, the Tierradentro lands have the ideal microclimate for an array of crop cultivation: coffee, wheat, vegetables, and sugarcane. The abundance of freshwater resources plays an important role for natural irrigation. However, for more than fifty years the area has been repressed by armed forces who gain money and power from illegal coca trade, which brought much violence and resulted in migration to the rural areas.

The majority of Paez’s population is employed in the agricultural sector where coffee production is dominant. The proximity to Huila gives access to the local markets for all crops. The native population still devotes some time to traditional crafts.

The approach to the coffee production in Paez is very similar to that of Nariño’s highlands: clean, organized, and sustainable. The use of the fertilizers is limited, though influenced by suppliers from Huila. The producers experiment with varieties and processing methods willingly to maintain diversity in the coffee fields.

The long lasting oppression by guerrilla forces was the main obstacle for any state or foreign investment in the region’s infrastructure. The main roads require maintenance due to frequent landslides, deforestation, and flooding. Access to professional health care and financial institutions is only available in the big cities, at least 30km from San Luis. The coffee infrastructure is modest, but each farm has its own micromill, though very simple. Several farms, owned by formerly repressed immigrants who returned to their homelands with funds, are equipped with modern stainless steel eco-mills and plastic mobile fermentation tanks.

To learn more about coffee farming in other regions of the world, visit our Origin blog.