Cedro Alto – A new type of coffee collective in Colombia
Our latest coffee release is the Segundo Ortiz, from Finca Alto Roblalito near Nataga in Colombia. We were blown away by this when we tasted it on the cupping table, the creamy sweetness of a natural coffee (just like strawberry cream for us), but clean like a washed coffee (we’re saying blackberry and pineapple), this juicy coffee is washed, but with an extended dry fermentation of 24-36 hours. We were also captivated by the story of Cedro Alto, the collective with strict environmental criteria that pays farmers for their high-quality coffee then takes on the financial responsibilities of getting that coffee to specialty coffee roasteries.
Karl, who founded Cedro Alto originally started working with small coffee farmers who were growing very high-quality coffee but didn’t always have the ability to get that coffee to specialty roasters (and get a price that was congruent to the quality of the coffee they were producing), the coffee often ending up “blended in” to coffee from many other small and much larger producers, losing unique profiles along the way.
Initially, Karl thought that translating emails would enable direct trade between farmers and roasteries to flourish, but eventually realised this wasn’t enough. The costs and difficulties of getting the coffee from the farms to the ports are too much for most small farmers — farmers are vulnerable in the supply chain.
So Cedro Alto was born, as a coffee collective, taking risks away from farmers and allowing farmers to be farmers. Starting with the cost that they believe they can sell the coffee to a roastery for, they then have flat costs for transportation, marketing, admin, etc, the rest of the price goes straight to the farmer. This keeps high-quality coffee that specialty roasteries want to buy from being lost and sold into blends at low prices (up to 80% of the high quality coffee in Colombia is lost this way), whilst protecting the farmers from the risks associated with exporting, transporting, administration, and marketing. Cedro Alto pays to the farmer their price immediately, then takes on all the responsibility of getting the coffee to roasteries afterwards.
Farmers (Cedro is currently buying from 160-200 different smallholders) have a commitment from Cedro Alto to be able to send all of the specialty grade coffee they produce, into the specialty supply chain (but they also don’t have to send their coffee if they don’t want to, there’s no contract). Karl believes in radical transparency, and releases a farm gate and FOB price (that’s the price paid to the farmer and the price paid by the roaster after transport). Cedro Alto also have some strict environmental criteria to join, like responsibly using water, using native hardwood for shade growing, and to not use pesticides.
We’re very proud to have the Segundo Ortiz and to share the story of Cedro Alto at Mission! You can grab a bag of the coffee here. At Mission we strive to buy the most transparent and fair coffee we can, to ensure that everyone is paid well throughout the supply chain and our customers get delicious coffee at the end of it.