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It’s easy to forget just how much time and energy goes into the production of the food that we eat – and the coffee that we drink. Our time in Colombia was a good reminder.

We visited several coffee farms in and around Huila to see where it all begins. The farms we visited were relatively small, family-affairs where a lot is done by people (not machines). Standing at the bottom of a field of coffee shrubs where row after row stretches up a steep incline, it is a daunting task.

Father and sons’ farm, Finca las Brisas, pick all their coffee cherries by hand – to get each coffee cherry, which contains only two coffee beans, a person will walk from shrub to shrub, carefully picking only the ripe berries, walking full buckets and sacks to waiting motorbikes and trucks. But they’re not finished yet – that cherry still needs to be processed to remove those two beans, weighed, and then sent off, often on a journey of many hours.  

These small, family-owned farms have limited resources so, rather than go at it alone, they are part of a cooperative that has the required knowledge and facilities. One co-op will work with hundreds of family-owned farms – the two we visited had 2,500 families between them. These co-ops support the farmers through the process, from hands-on in the fields to training to administration.

The co-op will also receive those two coffee beans – grown and picked by the farms – and get them milled, packed, checked for quality, sold, and sent around the world to us here in Aotearoa.

And after all that, we receive a 70kg sack of green coffee, around 128,240 green coffee beans.

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