The Cooperative Alto Occidente grew from an effort to take a stand against exploitation. The coffee growers in the Riseralda/Caldas region had had their fill of being exploited by the middlemen who were the main buyers of their beans up until that point in the 1950s. To combat this exploitation, a group of farmers worked together to form Cooperative Alto Occidente. The cooperative purchased coffee, offered access to credit and provided agricultural materials. All members of the cooperative are smallholder farmers. Families do the majority of labor on the farms.
Harvest & Post Harvest
Coffee production is centered around the family unit. Cherry is handpicked and delivered to each family’s micro-wet mill. At the micro-wet mill, farmers pulp the cherry and then ferment coffee in water for 16 to 24 hours, depending on the weather. After washing parchment in clean water, they lay it to dry for 8 to 14 days on small drying patios on the roofs of their houses. Farmers rake parchment frequently to ensure even drying. Once dry, farmers deliver parchment to the cooperative. The cooperative’s quality team assesses coffee for quality and size and then prepares the lots for shipment.