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Coffee for Peace in Colombia launches virtual buyers caravan

Coffee for Peace in Colombia is hosting its the first ever Virtual Buyers Caravan, showcasing growers in Cauca and Valle del Cauca from 11 to 14 August.

Coffee for Peace, an initiative led by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) and supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), says the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business operations of all kinds. In the coffee realm, green coffee buyers have not been able to make their regular trips to coffee- producing countries to source coffee for their operations.

Taking place virtually, the Caravan aims to present an interactive, festive experience that is “different from your average Zoom call”. Over the four days, coffee buyers will engage in 90-minute virtual visits to four producer organisations from areas where Coffee for Peace operates, all of which are historic violent zones in Colombia. Participants will take part in interactive cupping sessions and learn about the culture and practices that make each group unique.

“We are very excited about this first ever Virtual Buyers Caravan because it lays out a template for how coffee buyers can continue to develop meaningful relationships with Colombian coffee producers during a time of global crisis,” says Juan Camilo Ramos, Chief Commercial Officer of the FNC.

David Pohl of Coffee for Peace adds, “While there is no substitute for stepping foot on a coffee farm, technology has improved so dramatically in recent years that it really is possible to visit coffee-producing communities, engage with producer groups, and develop long-term relationships without having to board a plane.” 

Interested coffee buyers can apply to attend the Virtual Buyers Caravan with 22 July as the deadline to register. They will then receive samples from the four producer organisations taking part in the Caravan: the FNC through the Coffee Growers Committee of Cauca, Cencoic in Popayan, Cafinorte in Santander de Quilichao, and Cafioccidente in Restrepo.

Buyers will receive samples both as green and roasted coffee for their own cuppings, allowing them to sample-roast to their desired level, but also taste the same roasted coffee as all participants so they have the same entry point to the conversation about each coffee.

During the Caravan, each day will focus on a different producer organisation, with a video on each group, a live Q&A with buyer participants and the producers, and a conversation about their coffee.

This interaction between producer and buyer is vital at this time, says KC O’Keefe of Coffee for Peace.

“The specialty coffee business is built upon the coffee roaster’s interaction with growers. Vacant that interaction, specialty coffee becomes a simple high-quality commodity. The Virtual Buyers Caravan attempts to throw a critical interaction lifeline to keep specialty coffee special through COVID-19,” O’Keefe says.

For more information, visit www.coffeeforpeace.org

“We sincerely thank the coffee community for embarking with us on this innovative and sustainable approach to sourcing coffee from Colombia,” Pohl says.

Image: Courtesy of Coffee for Peace

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