We recently sent our manager of innovation and technology, Blake Wester, to Colombia to experience coffee from bean to cup and investigate emerging technologies for coffee-based ingredients. The trip was another example of Flavorchem’s continued focus on ensuring clean, all-natural ingredients and the latest in innovation.
Outside of the major cities, coffee can be found growing all around the country. It can be found growing in peoples’ yards, on the steepest of hills, the sides of the roads and in fields intercropped with corn, plantains, pineapples and other crops necessary to the survival of the communities that harvest the beans.
In general terms, coffee falls into two grades; specialty and commodity. During this trip we visited one of each. First off was a farm that has been continually operated by the same family for over a century. Next to a century old farmhouse, there was a small processing facility, which is starting to become rare in Colombia as many farms are now using centralized cooperative processing facilities. Almost everything here is done the same way it was a century ago, from manually separating the ripe cherries to drying the beans over charcoal. The entire operation is a perfect depiction of small family, specialty coffee farming where the owners take extreme pride in their product.
Next, we visited a facility that was drastically different but equally dedicated to delivering quality coffee. Unlike the small family-owned farm, this facility was high-volume and commodity grade, with a massively complex and streamlined process. The facilities here were immense, yet each step in the process was extremely efficient and well thought out, with quality checks along the way. This facility processes an unbelievable amount of coffee and the level of sustainability was impressive. Almost every waste product was either purified and reused or converted to fuel or fertilizer.
There is such an amazingly optimistic and resourceful culture in Colombia which reflects in their incredible food and beverage flavors. Wester says of his experience, “We left the country with new understanding of coffee and the dedicated people that skillfully take it from tree to cup.”
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