This is our first year working with this very impressive and relatively new association from the far south of Tolima, Colombia.
ASOPEP (Association of Ecological Producers of Planadas) is based in the municipality of Planadas. This town is quite young, founded as a penal colony built for the confinement of members of the Colombian Liberal Party in 1920. The municipality arose in the 1930s with the closure of the political prison.
The people of Planadas have been through great difficulty beginning with the violent periods of the 40s and 50s and into the years of guerilla conflict that only ended a few years ago.
Emerging from their history as a very remote town embroiled in national political conflicts, the founders of ASOPEP created the association with the goal of finding better markets for their coffee, developing a form of government that works in their interests and developing a model of sustainable farming that will guarantee the precious natural resources of their municipality for future generations.
The coffee is very high grown, typically between 1400 and 2100 meters above sea level, and is comprised of common Colombian varieties -- Typica, Colombia, Castillo and Caturra. It is wet processed on-farm and dried on raised beds under solar driers.
ASOPEP has put real emphasis on quality farming, with successful efforts put into developing local variations of advanced organic fertilizers and a very strong emphasis on farmers' understanding of quality in the cup. Every farmer is trained as a cupper, and many of the farmers' children are actively involved at the cupping lab where they are learning to take a strong leadership position in Colombia's flourishing specialty coffee scene.