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Introducing Cosmopolis Coffee
After 18 months of research and preparation, and years of quiet germination, Cosmopolis Coffee is finally ready to launch. Although new, the company can trace its origins back almost a century to the town of Dolores, Tolima in Colombia, where my great-uncle Raff had a coffee farm called La Montaña. So it’s with great joy that I start this company with two coffees produced by small farmers in the Tolima, and very soon another coffee from Santander further north.
These coffees and the farmers behind them express the kind of company Cosmopolis Coffee aspires to be. Buying coffee from small farmers so that the people who work the land reap the benefits; buying from farmers and cooperatives who are consciously farming the land in a sustainable manner; and being ready to adapt with them along the way.
Farmers in the Tolima face big obstacles in getting their coffee to market. Managing and harvesting the coffee cherries, as labor intensive as it can be, is only part of the journey. Then the coffee must be ‘processed’ into its green salable form, which requires machinery to depulp the coffee and space to dry the coffee. It must be graded and cupped for quality, which requires experience and training. But one of the biggest challenges is transportation – getting the coffee from the farm to market, when road infrastructure is weak or non-existent. When Raff lived at La Montaña, one of the things he had to do was build a road to make the farm accessible.
Which is why farmer cooperatives are so important. Both the Tolima coffees in the Cosmopolis starting lineup come from farmers in ASOPEP, a cooperative that has been instrumental in putting the Tolima back on the coffee map. A vertically integrated association of 302 members, it has the infrastructure and resources needed to control processing, quality control, transport, and sales, empowering small farmers to reach both domestic and export markets.
Café de Mujeres is produced by 56 women farmer members of the cooperative, and it has been a favorite among family and friends. One of my sisters said it reminded her of the coffee my parents had when we were growing up in Ireland. I feel the same way. While we know the Café de Mujeres probably tastes different, somehow it brought us straight back to that time, and connected us in a visceral way to our Colombian and Irish heritage.
The second ASOPEP coffee is produced by the dynamic 32-year-old farmer Jorge Elias Rojas, who owns a farm in Armenia, Tolima. Combining his skills as a farmer, a physical analyst, and as a cupper, Jorge Rojas works to find the distinctive qualities of his coffees. His farm, La Jardín, at 1840 meters above sea level, is said to provide the ideal agro-climatic conditions for coffee growing, processing and drying, with trees to provide natural shade. This particular coffee is fermented in the cherry for 48 hours, then depulped (when the skin and fleshy part of the cherry is separated from the bean), fermented for a further 96 hours, and then washed. This prolonged fermentation and subsequent washing is what produces the coffee’s clean and smooth fruity flavor.
The third coffee comes from Forestal, an organic coffee plantation near Zapatoca, Santander, which is in north-eastern Colombia, right in the middle of the Andes. Forestal practices regenerative agriculture, developing a balanced ecosystem for coffee production over decades, planting trees for shade, raising sheep that provide some natural weed control, and creating an environment where an abundance of species can thrive. The coffee itself is of high quality, a blend of Castillo, Tabi, and Bourbon varietals, meticulously processed through two stages of fermentation, before being graded and cupped for sale. This coffee will be released in the coming weeks.
Thank you for joining us. We hope you enjoy the coffee!