This article was republished with the permission of Dan Dean, Staff Writer for Observer & Eccentric Newspapers. Jeff Taylor’s journey to find exceptional coffee has taken him across the globe and along the way he has met some exceptional people, none more so than his wife, Maritza. “I met Maritza at a coffee competition in Ecuador… Continue Reading
For Maritza and I, it was just another travel delay, common for us and no big deal. Our Thursday flight from Cali to Pasto, Colombia was canceled due to weather. We were scheduled to meet with one of our producers,Armando Benavides of Finca Santa Maria, on Friday, and that is where everything took a very dark and life changing turn.
Because of the flight delay, we didn’t make our appointment and Armando was not at the farm on Friday evening either. He actually lives in Buesaco, a town close to the farm; and that is the positive news.
Bandits raided his farm Friday night near Buesaco, Nariño, taking everything in sight, even if it was bolted down.
The farm manager later reported that two masked men with guns came to the farm on Friday night around 8pm.They tied him up and put him in the back of the car they were driving. His family was locked in one of the homes on the property, along with the dogs.
Then, more bandits joined the first two and they robbed Armando and his family of everything on the farm. They took his beds, his furniture, his motors to run the coffee processing equipment, and even the coffee that was drying on the patio or in bags in the warehouse. They took everything they could find for the next 5+ hours.
They took everything except Armando’s and his family’s spirit. His children, Valeria and Juan Pablo, rallied around their father, as did his wife, Magali. Thats what family’s do after all, they prop us up during times of trouble.
The farm manager, who was locked in the car, was set free, unharmed, on the side of a road around 3am in the morning. Thats when Armando got the life changing phone call. The family and dogs were still scared to death in the home where they lived. No one was injured, but they were plenty scared.
When Maritza and I finally arrived at the farm the following Tuesday morning, Armando was emotional, but strong. Resilient. Undaunted. The harvest would go on and the coffee would make it to market so that he could feed his family.
Community and family members have rallied around to help them, and we are stepping up as well to raise some funds and help Armando and his family rebuild.
This is Latin America. Safe, beautiful, and full of good people with big hearts and wonderful smiles. My wife is from Colombia and we travel here often. We are always aware of the dangers and try to be prepared. But, sometimes, sometimes even in the USA, bad people do bad things.
Our job and our family often take us traveling in Latin America, and many of our friends do the same. We hope that any of them reading this will take note and not travel without a touch of fear or preparation. It is safe, safer than it’s been in Colombia in 30 years, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t without risk. There is always risk in what we do, as there is for the farmers who live isolated in the mountains. But we love coffee and the people who grow it, so we measure that risk and evaluate the challenges with every trip.
This trip, we got lucky. Armando and his family were not so lucky.
We’ll help his family however we can and we invite you to join us. We’ve set up donation links at the top and bottom of this page that will go to a special fund for Armando and his family. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of Finca Santa Maria coffee will also go to this fund. If we can raise $1,000 we can change their lives for the better. Get them back on their feet and harvesting and growing coffee. Raising their family with the thought their are still wonderful people out there. The bad people in the world do not out number the good.
You can read more about Finca Santa Maria and view a video of our 2012 visit here.
You can purchase their coffee here. A portion of the proceeds will be contributed to the fund.
We are happy to announce our newest Direct Trade partnership with Juan Yurja in Bolivia. When we were first introduced to this farm in 2011, it was an interesting coincedence. There was a micro-lot that had been originally prepared for the Bolivia Cup of Excellence, and the competition had been cancelled last year. We were in… Continue Reading
Our two most recent Direct Trade arrivals feature the Peaberry of a Caturra Variety, grown around 2000 meters . The first roast date for these micro-lots will be on Monday, March 5th. Colombia Finca Villa Loyola Caturra Peaberry has a very complex and full bodied profile. Peaberries have a more concentrated flavor, making this coffee… Continue Reading
As the year comes to a close, we want to look back at the highlights that made 2011 great! 2011 brought much success in our sourcing efforts, and we were able to get our hands on many Award Winning coffees. Whether it be the Best of Panama, Cup of Excellence, or even something from the… Continue Reading
The holidays are rapidly approaching, and we have a few shipping updates to pass on to you for sharing great coffee with your family and friends. Thanksgiving is a time to feast, enjoy the gift of family and give thanks for all that we are grateful for. We are thankful for the time and effort… Continue Reading
Shipping costs have been on the rise recently due to an increase in gas prices and inflation in our economy. FedEx has been a competitive outlet for us, and we want to extend their shipping options to you. FedEx 2-Day and FedEx Overnight Rates are very competitive. The FedEx Ground option has an added benefit for Residential Customers. … Continue Reading
We are very excited to offer the two best coffees from Panama in 2011. In fact these two coffees were vying for the top spot in the SCAP Best of Panama competition. It was a close finish in the competition, and they were only separated by a 1/2 point. Jeff and Maritza Taylor were both… Continue Reading
Memorial Day marks the beginning of Summer Vacation for many students across the country, and is a timeless tradition for honoring our loved ones, and the fallen soldiers who gave their lives to protect our freedom. To pay tribute to our loved ones, we will be extending a free shipping promotion through the holiday weekend.… Continue Reading
With all of the excitement surrounding the 2011 Hacienda La Esmeralda coffee auction, we felt that it is time to announce the final roast of our 2010 Mario San Jose auction lot. After tasting each lot, we knew that there were two coffees that we had to have: Mario Carnaval and Mario San Jose. Both… Continue Reading