At 15 years, our relationship with Fondo Paez Cooperative is our longest-standing farmer partnership. Each year, we eagerly anticipate the coffee from this small cooperative in the majestic highlands of the Cauca region of the Colombian Andes. The Paez, or Nasa, are the largest indigenous group of people in Colombia.
Founded in 1992, the Fondo Paez Cooperative was created with the core missions of preserving Paez cultural traditions as well as supporting both a healthy ecology and local economy.
When TJ first visited the co-op, it was not safe to travel to the community due to the long standing civil war between the Colombian government and FARC guerillas. It's no understatement to say the journey was a significant risk, to the point that TJ wrote and sent a letter to his wife in the event he didn't return after being smuggled across the Colombian countryside. But with that successful leap of faith, TJ became the first-ever international visitor to the cooperative, and that first visit was the beginning of a deep partnership.
Since then, we've made countless trips to visit the 550 farmers of Fondo Paez and in TJ's words:
“It’s been over 15 years and now when I return to visit, I see a lot of familiar faces and it feels a bit like coming home...this is one of the results of a long term relationship. We aren't just another buyer, we are truly partners, friends. Back in the US when I’m making business decisions and choices I know they are directly impacting these families. That to me is a blessing and heavy responsibility.”
Experience this year's harvest of Colombia Fondo Paez here.