What Manos Juntas is Doing to Preserve Specialty Coffee in Colombia

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Since we’re entering our third straight year of offering Colombian coffee from the Manos Juntas Micromill, we thought it’d be a good idea to break down what exactly they’re doing over there and why we are such big fans of them. 

What is a Micromill?

For a bit of background, coffee at origin undergoes a longer series of processes than one may think. Cultivating, growing, tending to, and harvesting a coffee cherry is about 40% of what you need to do to be able to ship coffee across the world. There’s a plethora of processes and transportation that a cherry must go through before it even becomes a green coffee bean that we roasters receive at our shop. A micromill is one major piece of that secondary push at origin to help small farms get over the processing hump. Simply put, a mill is a station that gets the cherry off of the seed and into its level of parchment to be transported free of risk of any rot that may come from transporting just cherries. The equipment needed to manage a mill is usually far too expensive for a small farm to be able to invest in on their own, so mills tend to place themselves in central areas of coffee-growing regions as a catch-all for many farms.

Why is Manos Juntas a Cool Example of a Micromill?

In the world of coffee farms, you have two options: you can push for quantity, or you can push for quality. If you’re looking at being successful in the industry, you must put all your cards into one of those two categories. Granted, there are plenty of farms that are in the grey area of these extremes, but those farms usually aren’t going to be the head honchos of success (in fact many farms are beginning to see that they’re going to have to choose to go all one way or the other with ever-raising supply chain costs, but that’s to be discussed in another blog). This creates tension with small farms. In agriculture, you can’t necessarily scale up in the same way as pretty much any other business. Your product is so closely knit to your geographical location, that if you grow past the point of scale that you can support with your current farm, you can’t necessarily just look for a new location pack your things, and move. So, you kind of have to go for high-quality coffee.

What makes Manos Juntas unique in the world of mills is that their focus isn’t simply giving their clients what they need to keep the coffee process going, but primarily they are focused on bolstering a small farm’s technique in harvesting to bring them up to that 85-point threshold that so many small farms aspire to. They’re providing a high-quality product in their milling processes and educating small farms about how to streamline and fine-tune the processes that they’re doing on their end. The higher quality the final product is, the more profitable it can become and the more sustainable they are for the long haul. Manos Juntas sees the opportunity of the land in the Sotará area of Colombia and is actively trying to bolster the quality, through their coffee knowledge.

Throughout the past three years, we’ve offered brown labels, gold labels, and black labels from the Manos Juntas Micromill, which both show this area's ceiling and their room to grow. We’re super excited to see what’s to come and are totally along for the ride!