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Adventures from the harvest: Meet the people behind your coffee

Home from the coffee harvest at La Marianela, Colombia, Extract barista Henry Edwards shares the stories of the friends he met out in the fields.

"The coffee harvest was a crazy time with a phenomenal amount of work being done by a dedicated team. Whilst La Marianela have some permanent employees who are housed on the farm, many of the workers are migratory and travel from farm to farm harvesting coffee.

This means that the priority for the Dorronsoro family as employers is generating a loyal workforce. Skilled workers who are paid well and looked after during their time at La Marianela so that they return year after year. Here are just few, more personal photos of some of the workers I met this year."

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 1

At the end of each day coffee from La Marianela and from neighbouring plantations is loaded on to these trucks for processing.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 2

One worker brought his horse to the plantation each day to help workers transport more coffee more quickly.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 4

Here is the coffee arriving to the mill in Popayan. It was a buzzy, communal affair with farmers from across the region all congregating here to have their coffees cupped and graded.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 5

This is Jose, Pablo’s right hand man. He oversees the processing of the coffee and is one of the permanent workers who lives on the La Marianela farm.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 6

This photo shows Ricardo packing coffee up to be weighed after drying.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 3

Day to day, many of the workers referred to each other simply as ‘Paisa’ a slang term meaning countryman. There was always lots of laughs and smiles shared despite the hefty workload.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 7

This picture shows the pulped coffee cherries getting turned into compost which is then used elsewhere on the farm as fertiliser. It was pretty humbling to see that sort of circular economy happening and the care which went into the environment. Pablo also talked to me about how they were working on building channels to recycle the water used for processing.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Farm Workers 8

Here’s a pic of one of the workers using coffee chaff as fuel to power one of the furnaces – another example of recycling waste product where possible.

Henry La Marianela Colombia Harvest Popayan Q Grader Pablo

Finally . picture of Maroly from Popayan. She had so much time for me it was incredible and her palate was just amazing. Maroly was a qualified Q grader and her job was to grade all of the coffee. It was a tense moment as each farmer waited to see her verdict as the quality grade she gives is what determines whether the coffee can be sold for a premium as speciality, or if it has to go into commercial coffee. The financial impact for a farmer and their workers, is huge.

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