Relationships are what we enjoy most about working in coffee and they’re what drive how we conduct business. The opportunity to find like-minded people and work with them towards a common goal is a great joy in life and something we derive a lot of satisfaction from doing. Since August 2018 Sträva has been fortunate to cultivate an incredible relationship with Campesino Specialty Coffee out of Medellín, Colombia. Campesino is a specialty coffee exporter that purchases coffee directly from farmers in Colombia and sells directly to roasters in the United States, managing all of the processing and logistics in-between.
In the summer of 2018 we read an article about a Vermont coffee roaster - hyperlinked in that article was a company called Campesino Specialty Coffee, a green coffee exporter out of Colombia. We followed the link and followed-up with Campesino via email. Before we knew it we were on the phone with Daniel Velazquez, founder of Campesino, chatting about each other’s companies, visions, and needs. Within the week green coffee samples from Campesino arrived at our roastery. Green coffee samples are what we as green buyers use to evaluate the characteristics of a coffee that we may be interested in purchasing and roasting.
We roasted the samples and were instantly impressed by what we were cupping (tasting). Prior to sampling Campesino’s coffee we were blending up to three different coffees (sometimes from different importers) together in order to achieve our desired flavor profile. This posed unique challenges on the sourcing, blending, and roasting aspects of coffee production. Campesino’s Madre Laura sample achieved a remarkably similar and in many ways superior flavor profile with one coffee. That’s when we decided to commit to purchasing our first harvest with Campesino.
As of March 2020 we’re in our fourth harvest working with Campesino and their group of farmers. We’ve collaborated on social projects, quality, supply chain, and traceability projects. We’re building a solid business relationship and friendship that endures volatile coffee prices and uncertain global economies. For example, a portion of the price that we pay for green coffee has contributed to the buildout of Campesino’s education center in Jericó. We source all of our Peace & Wellness coffees from Campesino and have begun to offer some of their micro-lots and community projects as single origins on the Coffee Underground.
Over the past two years we’ve seen Campesino grow as a small business in Jericó, Antioquia. What started as a warehouse where Campesino stores coffee from their network of farmers is now a full-on education center. Farmers can attend courses on agronomy, coffee cultivation, and sharpen their sensory skills with Campesino’s team. More to come on this awesome project!
One of the advantages of establishing a direct, multi harvest relationship is that we’ve been able to collaborate on quality at a level well beyond our wildest expectations. We work off of a standardized coffee grading system called Q-Grading (a classification of defects found in green coffee). Through this system we are able to identify aspects of our supply chain that can be improved to yield a higher quality cup. In November 2019 Strava made its first origin-trip to visit Campesino - a critical part of establishing roaster-producer relationships. Traveling to origin provides an essential farm-level perspective for contributing to social projects and paying a fair price for our coffee.
Keep an eye out for part 2 of this series on Strava’s relationship with Campesino - we’ll be interviewing Campesino founder, Daniel Velazquez, about his company, team, and vision. Our goal is to illuminate our supply chain in the series to come - we take great interest in knowing where our coffee comes from, and the people/communities whose livelihoods depends on it - we’re excited to share that with you!
Continue reading: Part II - An Interview with Campesino founder, Daniel Velazquez