The region around Santa Maria in Huila has been a stronghold for guerrillas during the 60-year conflict that ended recently, making the town virtually inaccessible for several decades. The civilian population suffered tremendously from the conflict, always being in the middle between the warring parties (guerrilla, para-military groups and the army). Only during the start of the peace negotiations around in 2012, the FARC pulled out and the town opened up for outside influence and economic development. In 2018, The Coffee Quest partnered up with Asociación La Victoria to guarantee a more stable income for the group and other farmers around Santa Maria. The chosen method was setting up a buying station in the centre of town. The station fully focused on specialty purchases in the region and functions as foothold within the local community.
In the Santa Maria station we cup all the available samples handed in by the local community of farmers. A lot of work! But it allows us to pay the farmer relative to the actual quality of their coffee. For our 82 & 83 scoring lots we pay a premium on top of the local C-market related price. All 84+ coffees have fixed prices that have a premium of 20-80% higher.
Together with local partner La Victoria and other partners, The Coffee Quest Colombia is working on environmental improvements in the zone just next to the Parque Nacional del Nevado De Huila. In this buffer zone you can find quite some Santa Maria farmers. By setting up different projects with Parques Nacionales Naturales de Colombia and local environmental foundation FUSAMDES, the partners aim to restore as much of the nature in the buffer zone around the park.