PRODUCER: ALDEMAR PILLIMUE
REGION: SAN ANTONIO, INZA, CAUCA
ALTITUDE: 1,950M ABOVE SEA LEVEL
VARIETALS: COLOMBIA, TABI & CATURRA
FARM SIZE: 2 HECTARES
Hailing from the sub-municipality of San Antonio, the name Pillimue is dotted throughout the region. Because of this, the family are well known and held in high regard by coffee growers in Inza, Cauca; when it comes to producing a great cup.
Located in the east of the Department Cauca, the municipality of Inzá borders Tolima and Huila; as well as looking out over the Pacific Ocean to the west. Here, at close to 2000m, the town of San Antonio is situated in the “Macizo Colombiano” (the Colombian Plateau), contributing to some of the high peaks in Tolima and Huila. Cauca’s violent past, with a heavy presence of FARC guerrillas, had historically prevented the FNC (Colombia’s excellent national coffee board) and speciality-focused exporters from establishing a presence in the region. As violence has diminished, it has enabled the growers in the region to seek increased access to markets for quality, not only taking advantage of the region’s wonderful coffee-growing conditions but also the economic resource that nearby tourist destinations bring: for instance, the World Heritage Site “Parque Nacional Arqueológico de Tierradentro”.
In addition to being prime coffee growing land, the region is an important source of water and wildlife. This beautiful landscape is from where Las Cascadas takes its name. Translating as ‘the waterfalls’, Aldemar and his wife Leonor decided to name the farm after the multiple small waterfalls close to the farm. Originally, a small portion of the farm was inherited from Aldemar’s grandmother. Over time, Aldemar and his family have been able to purchase more land around the original house, in order to grow their production. Today, Las Cascadas is managed by both Aldemar and Leonor and continues to grow.
In recent years, our export partner, Pergamino, has launched a new project with the Pillimue family (not Aldemar and Leonor!), specifically in the region of Cauca. In order to offer upmarket access more widely in the region and to put more control in the hands of local people, the family has opened a small warehouse and cupping lab with funding from Pergamino. They act as logistics and sourcing partners and are able to provide quality assessment services for nearly 150 families in the area, which is far more impactful than any other regional association, reaching not just San Antonio, but now also the towns of Belen, La Palmera, Aguablanca, Pedregal, Palmichal, San Jose and Santa Teresa. Most importantly, the Pillimue/Pergamino partnership enables more families than ever before to access higher prices by placing coffee on the speciality market.
Like all producers in Colombia, Pergamino spent many years helplessly riding the roller coaster of international coffee prices. They had to invest, year after year, in their crops without knowing what price they would secure. As the saying goes in Colombia, there were years of lean cows and years of fat cows – the former being more common than the latter. They often sold their coffee to large exporters, never understanding their unique sensory profiles, nor in whose hands it ended up for what price. When they began selling their coffee directly to importers and roasters, everything changed.
Today, Pergamino works with more than 600 smallholder farmers in four Departments (Cauca, Antioquia, Huila and Nariño), and their influence continues to grow. They have developed relationships with the communities over time, providing invaluable feedback on quality and training in quality assessment. They are committed to transparency in their partnerships with these farmers, ensuring that profit margins are clear and that value-added by quality goes directly to the producer. The premiums that Pergamino pays range from 30-300% above market prices (depending on cupping score and volume). They also provide technical assistance so that farmers can continue to improve crop quality.
During the harvest season, Pergamino has committed to monthly visits to the group in order to cup and advise on quality. All coffee produced by the group that cups at 84+ points will be purchased. 84 scoring coffees will be added to the municipality (Inza) lot, 85 scoring to the sub-municipality (San Antonio) lot and higher scoring lots (such as this one) may be held aside as micro-lots to be marketed under the farmer/family’s own name.