In 1990, Colombia opened its doors to the international economy. Domestic producers all over the country suffered a tough blow as a wide variety of products had to start competing in the market with cheap foreign imports. Even coffee farmers were having a hard time since the coffee pact was broken in 1989. The instability of coffee’s new commodity index, traded daily on the NY stock exchange from ‘89 until today, had small and medium producers walking a tight line toward bankruptcy.
Gabriel Castaño lived through this situation and, like many other Colombians, he turned to coca production as a way of survival. But even while coca can promise high returns, the risks, both financial and personal, were often that much higher. As soon as he could, Gabriel left those fields and devoted himself to coffee.
His two-hectare finca, La Granada, in the department of Huila, is where he started everything anew. There he planted a pink bourbon variety that was not very well known at the time, and crafted it to produce a truly exquisite cup of coffee.
Today Gabriel says he wouldn’t trade lives with anyone. He has 8,000 trees sown, and sells a specialty coffee that he processes personally, including a 24 to 36 hour fermentation and a 10 to 15 day drying period in a parabolic greenhouse. Building an honest and transparent relationship with Azahar has given him peace of mind that he will always get a fair and sustainable price for his coffee. It lets him know that the decision he made nine years ago was the best for him and his children.