Updated: Jan 7
I’m George Hood, a barista and the supervisor here at the Colombian Coffee Company. I’m also in the process of setting up a charity associated with the business so we can bring tangible improvements to the lives of Colombian farmers whose coffee we all enjoy! I have a Bachelor's degree in Development Studies from SOAS, and am using my knowledge to help start the charity, as well as reconceptualise the way we talk about coffee in the speciality industry.
Now that everyone is spending more time staring at screens than ever before, and spending more time thinking about the impact of their consumer decisions, we thought we’d start a blog to keep our loyal customers up to date with what we’re doing at the company, and how that relates to the farming communities we source our coffee from.
I have noticed a few things since we started again at our roastery and at Borough Market. The first is how all-consuming COVID-19 can be for our personal lives. It often gives me acute tunnel vision: Should I have taken my mask off at that point? Should I have gone for that drink with friends? Should I check in on the family and see how they’re doing? Whilst all of these are important and necessary questions to ask myself, I’ve found that I’m losing sight of the bigger picture.
The bigger picture for us is looking down our entire supply chain and seeing the most adverse effects of the crisis being felt by coffee growing communities in Colombia. Even with the rates that we offer farmers for their product, disconnected from international market prices, demand for speciality coffee dropped off a cliff in April. Even now that demand is beginning to return, constant changes to infection rates and changes in government policy means that farming communities are at the mercy of volatile Northern consumer markets more than ever.
At the Colombian Coffee Company, we want the link between speciality coffee lovers and farming communities to go beyond tasting notes or latte art. More than anything, we don’t just want our customers to understand the tasting notes of Geisha or Castillo; we want our customers to understand the social and environmental processes that went into those micro-lots, and the challenges that farmers face in maintaining production of such a high quality crop.
Ultimately, this is what we will use the blog for. To give our customers and wider audience a chance to connect with and learn from and about Colombian farmers.
COVID-19 has shown us the devastating effects of a coffee trade-dynamic that leaves coffee producers extremely vulnerable to the swing of market demand, unfair terms of trade, environmental degradation and so many other things. I hope that this blog will help our customers and supporters understand the importance of their consumer choices in buying coffee from us, and from there build a relationship of shared values and understanding between you and the farmers we source from.
See you soon!