Oct 22, 2009
Manizalea, Colombia
Elevation 2094m

I went to a coffee farm today for a tour as I am in the Zona Cafetera region of Colombia. Our guide´s name is Alexandro and this is what I learned:

– a 10 kilo bag of raw beans sells from $1.25-$2 USD depending on the harvest and market demand.

– a 10 kilo bag of raw beans will yeild approx 3 kilos after roasting.

– this particular coffee farm has 20-30 works on staff but will add another 50-80 seasonal worker for the harvest season.

– the seasonal harvest workers vary in age, anywhere between 13-70 and there used to be a lot more women 10-15 years ago than now.

– the climate change is effecting the harvest and the crop. previously they were getting 80% of their harvest to be of export quality where as now they are only getting 30% that are good enough for export.

– export quality beans look and tasts vastly different than that of domestic consumptn. domestic consumption are of inferior beans are burnt and often infested with worms. the same quality of beans are what is used in the likes of Folgers or instant coffee.

– harvest workers are paid by the kilos, 400COP (approx $.50) per kilo. if the harvest is good, they can pick as much as 100 kilos a day

– a coffee tree can produce berries for 5 years then its dormiate for 2 years. every 7 years modifications needs to be made to the tree, such as trimming it back, in order for it to produce berries again in another 5 plus 2 year cycle.

– during harvest season, the prices for goods in surrounding towns fluctuate depending on the quality of the harvest. if its a good year, food and goods are more expensive as the workers have more money to spent. where as if its a bad harvest season, things are cheaper.

Alexandro said that he loves giving tours for the coffee farms as coffee is such an important part of the region and his culture that he feels like he is sharing a part of himself with us, “showing us himself” as he says.

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