Owning a coffee farm is not a glamorous job.
You’re working in a steamy field, not an air-conditioned office. Your pay depends on the commodity market and how well your crop grows – there’s no guarantee of a comfortable salary and benefits each year. It’s unlikely you’ll ever own mansions and helicopters, and it is almost certain that there will be times of extreme uncertainty. So why farm coffee? For the love of it!
Unfortunately, that’s a hard sell to the children and grandchildren of coffee farmers today. The lure of bright lights, big cities and a more stable way of life has them abandoning their family farms in droves. And who can blame them?
For most children on coffee farms, life is bleak. With the commodity market as unsteady as it is, with farmers frequently having to pay to sell their crops, life on a commodity farm can often come with little food, no schooling and few positives to inspire a love of coffee as a lifestyle.
But there is hope for the future of coffee… and one slither of it comes from El Silencio, a farm in the Norte de Santander region of Colombia. And that might be surprising as it’s not the most stress-free region to start with.
Since it’s also an exceptionally good place to grow cocaine, it’s often faced with extensive revolutionary action – with both the ELN and FARC based in that region. Lots of unrest, lots of sticky situations. But El Silencio is still changing things for the better.
Meet Samuel, the grandson of Oscar Ortiz – the grower of El Silencio. After we guided Oscar through our Three Phase Programme, realising the true potential quality of their coffee after Phase Two, it showed them both what could actually be achieved. Knowing they could make great-tasting coffee, that they also get a great price for? That gave Oscar and Samuel a newly ignited passion.
Samuel’s not even ten years old, but he’s already embarked on the first steps to becoming a coffee farmer in his own right. He gave Will a bag of green coffee that he’d grown, picked and processed all by himself. When most kids his age would struggling with making toast, we think that’s pretty amazing. And it’s good to know at least someone from the next generation has got the coffee bug.
We love helping to make sure children are the future of coffee – and hopefully that’ll mean we never run out of the good stuff!