Region: Magdalena, Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia
Altitude: 1200 m.a.s.l
Varietal: Typica & Castillo
Notes: This single origin benefits from the lush fertility, high rainfall and elevation of the coastal mountain range of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia, creating an exceedingly flavourful bean with great depth and body, naturally high in sugars.
AGROSEC is a 41-member co-op established in 2005 that consists of four indigenous Colombian groups – the Koguis, Wiwas, Arhuacos and Kankuamos peoples – who despite differences in language, dress and architecture consider themselves culturally identical. They have maintained their culture and resisted assimilation mainly through their isolated way of life and strong spiritual traditions. All are descendants of the ancient Tayrona culture, and fled to the mountains from the Spanish Conquistadors four centuries ago. They inhabit a region known officially as the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, growing subsistence crops as well as coffee, sugar cane, medicinal herbs and spices.
The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1979. It is the largest costal mountain range in the world, and a staggering amount of species call this diverse biosphere home. The Kankuamo call this region Umunukunu, which in their tongue means “Heart of the World” and refer to themselves as the “Keepers of the World”. They are guided by the belief that as goes this sacred place, so goes the world – they task themselves with guarding the permanence of all forms of life, maintaining equilibrium and harmony between humankind and nature, of which humanity is a part. They believe this balance is maintained through offering and prayer, diligent meditation, mental self-discipline, and a self-sustaining, ecologically-balanced way of life.
Because the fertile soil of the mountain was an ideal place to grow and hide marijuana and coca plants, violence from Colombia’s 40-year civil war—a war closely identified with drug trafficking—spilled into the region. The indigenous inhabitants of the mountain were often caught in the crossfire between leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary troops. Much of the sustainably managed land inhabited by the indigenous peoples was destroyed and they were subjected to assassination, kidnapping and forced recruitment.
To protect their people and heritage from outsiders, the Kankuamo people began organizing in the 1980s and joined together to form the Kankuamo Indigenous Organization (OIK) in 1993. OIK is located in a 24,400 hectare indigenous reserve recognized by the Colombian state and exists as a political entity to defend the land and way of life of the native peoples of the Sierra Nevada. Issues such as self-governability, autonomy, and cultural identity have been promoted and strengthened. The OIK has also enhanced internal production and self-sufficiency.