El Encanto is a farm in Antioquia, Colombia, a region known for producing vast quantities of coffee but relatively little specialty. El Encantazo is among the farm’s larger offerings from its past harvest, bringing a sweet and round washed-processed complement to the dry-processed Antioquian coffee also on our menu - La Claudinota. Both of these coffees come from farms owned and managed by Juan Saldarriaga, whose story conveys a compelling variation of the positive impact that all of our purchases strive to uphold.
The prevalent patterns of production in Antioquia are quite distinct from the supply chains we tend to represent. Most coffee here is produced on very large estates that emphasize quantity over quality, relegating environmental and social concerns to the periphery. While concentrations of successful commercial estates can sometimes lend relative economic stability to a region, the distribution of wealth and pathways to small-scale self-sufficiency are typically quite frail and fragmented. Juan Saldarriaga, whose family operated two medium-sized conventional farms near the town of Bolivar before he took over in 2012, is following a distinct trajectory in Antioquia. Juan’s experiences abroad informed his perspective on the breadth of markets that he and his neighbours failed to access through traditional means of production. Additionally, and of even greater interest to us here at Dispatch, his willingness to invest in quality-oriented practices and infrastructure has enabled him to helm a movement that demonstrates alternate means of income, market access, and entrepreneurship in his community. Proving the sustainability of his own modified operations, Juan now actively works with other young producers in his area to augment their options and agency outside of their long-marginalized position in the status quo.
Though we buy many coffees from Colombia, we have never carried one from Antioquia, largely for the reasons outlined above. Coffees from Juan and some of his neighbours were presented to us by importing partners at Nordic Approach, whose strategic alignments with well-resourced producers catch our attention when coupled with positive community influence and disruption of otherwise-unsustainable organizational structures.
We purchased two lots from Antioquia this year, one washed and one dry-processed, from each of Juan’s farms. The dry-processed coffee, La Claudinota, joined our menu in May.