Beginning with a dark chocolate notes, sweet nutty praline with a full body and a tangerine finishing hint of stone fruit leaning towards a nectarine.
Asociación de Productores Egológicos de Planadas (ASOPEP) is a young but successful coop in the town of Planadas in the Tolima region of Colombia. Founded in 2013 the organization now has 168 members making it the largest in Tolima. Its mission is to foster personal growth of its members, protect the environment, innovate in commercial business processes, and be the vanguard of specialty coffee producers worldwide.
The cooperative is led by Camilo Suarez, who is known for fostering the growth of business and strength of community in the Planadas area. ASOPEP has earned a strong reputation for creating high-quality coffee in its relatively short history.The organization has a diverse group of members with 30 families with women heads of household around 30% of the coop’s farmer members are between 20 and 30 years old.
It has formed a youth collective that helps train young people in cupping, quality control and barista skills along with business management and education in science and technology. It is a cooperative with complete coffee infrastructure that has control of the entire coffee chain at origin: processing, quality control, transportation and commercialization.
ASOPEP’s dedication to quality and emphasis on education has been paying off. They are part of a small number of certified Fairtrade and Organic Coops in Colombia.
Tolima is the third largest coffee producing region of Colombia and accounts for 12% of the country's annual production. Located in west-central Colombia, this region is fully inscribed by the Andean mountains and the Magdalena river basin, making it rather remote and challenging to access. Until recently, much of the coffee growing area had been considered dangerous because of the Colombian FARC's presence. .
Today, Tolima has seen a drastic decline in FARC presence, allowing for increased accessibility to these nutty, tangy, fruity, and creamy-bodied coffeesWe have had boots on the ground, with cupping spoon on hand Mike travels and cups coffees. We fall in love over and over again with the regional variations, the varieties, the landscape, and the producers themselves. From our work sourcing strong, versatile workhorse coffees for our Excelso Gran Galope signature offerings; to our celebration of the taste of place with Regional Selects from Cauca, Huila, Nariño, and Tolima; to the discovery and development of microlots from all over the country with our export partners and the producers with whom they work closely—we simply can’t get enough.
History of Colombian Coffee
As with many coffee origins, it is believed that coffee was first brought to Colombia by priests, arriving, perhaps, within a decade or two after coffee first came to the Americas via the Caribbean in the first half of the 17th century. It was likely a garden crop grown for local consumption and barter for decades. Generations of Colombians tell the story of a priest named Francisco Romero, who could be called the father of commercial coffee cultivation in Colombia. The folkloric tale goes that in the early 1800’s, Father Francisco, hearing confessions in the north eastern town of Salazar de la Palmas, assigned planting coffee to his parishioners as penance for their sins. The Archbishop of Colombia heard about this and ordered all priests to adopt the practice. Commercial production of coffee expanded quickly, moving into regions where the growing conditions were ideal.
Growing Coffee in Colombia
Even though it’s been 4,000 years, the soil resulting from the last major eruption of Tolima is still considered “young soil,” filled with nutrients that are no longer found at the same levels in old soil.
Volcanic soil contains high levels of potassium and nitrogen, which are fading or absent in other soils. “Boron”, which arrived from outer space long ago, is also present. Boron plays a key role in a diverse range of plant functions: it is essential to the structure of plant cell walls and in the creation of enzymes, and in flowering and fruit formation, meaning that Boron contributes to coffee seed yield.
In addition to nutrients, the structure of volcanic soil is also beneficial to coffee growing. It can soak up and hold moisture while, at the same time, facilitating good drainage so that the water doesn’t pool, which is not good for coffee plant roots. Coffee plants like to take a drink, then take a break. Additionally, volcanic soils are usually found on an incline, which also helps with drainage. All of these “microclimate” factors come together to bring you the complex, nuanced flavors in your cup of coffee.