Origin Stories: Inga Aponte

Every coffee has a story, travelling a lot of miles and being touched by many hands before finally being poured into your cup. A key to every coffee we select is transparency and quality, and for that, we rely on relationships. Often our coffee will come via conventional channels such as trusted sourcing companies, but every now and then we’ll have one of those chance meetings that is the start of a great and unexpected relationship. Inga Aponte is one of those stories.

THE MAN

We love talking to people whether they are coffee enthusiasts, industry professionals or just curious and since opening our coffee bar in September 2014 we have met a lot of interesting characters. During one of our first open cupping events at the bar in Lund, we met a guy named Jairo, a seemingly quiet guy but very focused and full of relevant questions. As it turned out Jairo worked for coffee growers representing La Meseta, a green coffee company based in Colombia. He told us about the Inga Aponte community and their efforts to cultivate the Caturra varietal and how they were making all kinds of experiments on processing, water activity etc. We received some samples and tried the washed caturra which showed a great cup, it was clean and vibrant with complex aromas and impressive structure. Our regular green coffee partner managed to help us bring this coffee home and we had our first trade with the Inga Aponte coffee growers, which we really enjoyed.

In preparation for the coming harvests, we started talking to Jairo about trying to find a more direct trade from the farmers to us for the coming season. It was fairly easy to communicate since Jairo was living in our area and La Meseta really pushed to take the necessary steps to handle the logistic sides. Jairo told us about the great results they were seeing on honey processed lots of the caturra and thought we should try it. We did, and we’re very excited about the coffee. Truly unique in character with a complex mix of ripe fruits, berries, chocolates and spices that integrated between the coffee and the honey process in an impressive way.

Thankfully La Meseta now has warehouses in Europe. We normally buy just one pallet because of our limited warehouse space, but this year we purchased three to showcase this great coffee both for filter and espresso.

THE PEOPLE

The Inga Aponte people have an incredible history. Descendants of the prehispanic Incas, they were known as nomad warriors, who during the period of Spanish conquest took refuge in the high mountains of Colombia. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that records for the community appeared again as they began working in the rubber and quinoa trade. But they were once again displaced after the Colombian-Peruvian war over disputed territories, with most of the diaspora not returning until as late as the 1990’s. Government arrangements granted the community land under the protected territories program, including initiatives for ethno-education and the generation of new forms of agriculture production. However, for much of the late 90’s and beyond the region was blighted by the presence of guerrilla groups, drug traffickers and paramilitary groups that exploited the local people. In a violation of their human rights, the Ingas were coerced into growing coca to supply the production of narcotics. Thankfully today, the reign of these terror groups have been brought to an end and the region is looking to coffee to change their fortunes.

THE COFFEE

The farms of the Nariño region lay in the shadow of the Volcano Galeras, which over time has spouted ash upon the surrounding lands providing nutrient rich soil. The area is just 1°north of the equator and is home to some of the highest terrain in Colombia meaning lower temperatures than average, perfect for the Caturra varietal that is grown. This unique climate gives long maturation and excellent growing conditions for the coffee trees and adds to the fully ripe sweet taste. The Inga Aponte community really has something unique in their terroir and we believe their future lots will be just as great as this years. This is our second harvest of Inga Aponte and we love it, that’s a reflection of its favourable terroir but also the dedication of the Ingas to build a better future for their people, and that’s something we are honoured to be a part of.