Imagine one day, an armed group of criminals come to your house to give you 24 hours to leave or face death. You need to walk hundreds of miles carrying your children and all of your belongings – and you need to move quickly. What will you take with you? Some clothes? As a coffee farmer, some bags of your produce? Perhaps blankets and pans? Your toothbrush? Something special like jewellery you might be able to sell? And where will you go?
Colombia is home to a conflict that has lasted more than half a century but goes mostly unreported in the UK media. As a result of the violence, many families and communities have to flee their homes and livelihoods at the drop of a hat and are forced to walk thousands of miles looking for somewhere they can settle. Many arrive in the major cities, others migrate to coastal areas - but wherever they go they face the tremendous task of starting their lives from scratch.
4 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes. Some of these families come from coffee-growing backgrounds.
Before the beginning
Eduardo Florez grew up in a home in Colombia where poverty had gripped his community and violence was a daily occurrence. Gabriela Oakley had lived and worked in Colombia, where she had seen the devastating impact of this on farmers and their families.
Coffee producers in Colombia already struggled to cover production costs, even with the merits of Fairtrade. Researching a market worth more than £7.2bn, they discovered some shocking statistics. On average, coffee farmers producing specialty coffees received just 6% of the total profit made, with multiple intermediaries in the middle of the chain taking huge cuts. On top of this, they discovered a correlation between coffee production and the number of attacks in coffee-growing communities.
Exposed to the volatile market prices, controlled primarily by large corporations driving them down, the hard-working farming communities in Colombia were forced to take any price they could get for their coffee to support their livelihoods, raise their children and simply survive – and often, this wasn’t enough.
The start of change
Realising that a change had to be made, Eduardo and Gabriela decided to set up The Colombian Coffee Company to make a positive difference to these communities and give back to their country by selling its finest product: single origin coffee.
The Colombian Coffee Company aims to connect coffee lovers in the UK with the communities that make their coffee. We want to give you the opportunity to make a true positive difference to the communities which produce your favourite hot drink and reflect on the direct impact you have made when you buy and enjoy our single origin coffees.