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Nariño is a department in the South West of Colombia, bordering Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean. Nariño’s diverse geography and mountainous terrain result in a climate that varies by altitude: hot in the plains of the Pacific and cold in the mountains. While the area closer to San Juan de Pasto, the department’s capital, is relatively safe, toward the coast there continues to be an active drug trade and a strong ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional ) presence.
Over the last 5 decades… (add historical/social context with conflict)
Coffee in Nariño is typically produced by smallholder farmers with less than a hectare of production area, who then home process their coffee before selling their coffee as parchment. Of the more than 38,000 farmers in Nariño, more than 90% have farms of less than one acre.
Farmer challenges….. (add more on coffee growing challenges & other livelihoods)
Nariño coffee has a unique profile, with traditionally smaller beans that are known for a sweet, floral and highly acidic profile. The coffee harvest primarily takes place once a year between May and July.
Coffee grows in Nariño at an altitude of up to 2300 MASL, and the special micro-climate, volcanic soils and sunshine make the higher elevations close to Buesaco, and La Florida ideal for cultivating coffee.
More than 90% of the coffee produced in the region is purchased by Starbucks & Nespresso, creating a stable market, but lack of opportunity for value addition through competitive pricing. The CRS Borderlands project worked in Nariño from 2011-2016 in an effort to develop a more diversified specialty coffee market, including working closely with Caravela Coffee and other specialty exporters.