Coffee Culture and Community
The farm is located in the small municipality of Buenavista, Quindio Department. The town has about 2,200 residents and some 3,000 others are spread throughout the rural neighborhoods. The farm is an hour walk, or a 15 to 20-minute ride outside of the town in the neighborhood called Los Juanes, characterized by the canyon it borders with a small river passing through the bottom of the canyon. The farm is part of the western Colombian Andean mountain range and is volcanic in origin. The weather is sub-tropical rainforest with two rainy seasons (April and November) coinciding with the coffee harvest seasons (making it more difficult and costly to dry coffee).
Coffee in Colombia and in Buenavista only dates two generations back, starting in the 1920’s, 1930’s. Prior to that this area was little settled. Going further back in time this land was part of the Pijao Indian nation (for which the neighboring town of Pijao is named) and the Pijao people were a branch of the much larger Quimbaya Indian nation that extended from Medellin to Cali to Ibague, the southern extent that included all of the current Department of Quindia of which Buenavista is a part.
Coffee quickly became the key crop and industry of this area and Buenavista a small level stopping point of mules making the way to the capital cities of the Department to market. Coffee is so historically essential this area that it is called the “Eje Cafetero” or Coffee Axis and was formally declared by the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization a Cultural Heritage of Humanity Site. The iconic 1950’s jeeps (Willys Overland) that followed mules to work coffee farms in the mountains was also declared a national heritage in Colombia. They still serve Buenavista for all types of transport and work.
Unfortunately, the producer coffee crisis has reduced the area in coffee dramatically and the coffee culture history is being lost. Still, in Buenavista coffee agriculture dominates and we hope it continues, we will. Buenavista is full of cafeterias, and there is a growing appreciation of specialty and differentiated coffee. Besides cafeterias, Buenavista is recognized as a town of small-scale ecotourism (and hang gliding) and reverence.