The verdant, high-altitude mountains of Antioquia (Anti-ock-eea), once known as the ‘Wild West’ of Colombia, are home to some of the richest and most fertile coffee-growing lands in the world. It’s hardly a surprise, then, that it is one of the country’s biggest coffee-growing regions, contributing greatly to its global reputation for producing high-quality arabica; in 2011 Colombia’s ‘Coffee Cultural Landscape’ became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Coffee production is integral to Colombia’s economy, and with over half a million coffee farmers it is the country’s largest source of rural employment. And yet, today the average age of a Colombian coffee farmer is 57, and as fewer young people see a positive future in the trade and seek higher paid and less laborious work in towns and cities instead, the future of coffee supply is increasingly under threat.
That’s why in 2016, Swedish roasters Löfbergs launched the initiative Next Generation Coffee, to help contribute towards solving what they deem as a problem matching the scale of climate change. Setting up projects in Colombia, Kenya and Tanzania, Next Generation Coffee focuses on making coffee farming a genuinely appealing and realistic prospect by improving development opportunities through education and direct trade.
Partnering with the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC), the family-owned roasters are working with farmers between the age of 15-30, such as Ana-Maria Zapata Palacio (pictured) from the town of Titiribí, just outside of Medellín. By developing their social, entrepreneurial and agricultural skills and improving productivity and sustainable farming methods, they in turn hope to provide better earnings for these young farmers and increase the quality of their coffee.
Löfbergs are also purchasing coffee directly from farmers in the initiative to sell to consumers, providing secure business and incentivising production of the highest quality. Ana-Maria’s hand-picked beans have been blended with carefully-selected arabica beans from Brazil to create Next Generation Coffee Colombia Brazil, a medium-roasted and well-balanced coffee with fresh fruitiness and hints of cacao, which you can taste at the festival.
Head to Löfbergs' stand at The London Coffee Festival to take an immersive, 360 trip to Ana-Maria’s farm and taste her delicious coffee.