One of Nossa Familia's baristas, Lucas Chemotti, recently had the opportunity to visit an Ecuadorian coffee farm, Finca Maputo. The visit was facilitated through Nossa Familia Coffee's relationship with Café Imports. This is his account and short documentary film about the farm.
By Lucas Chemotti, edited by Sofia Ellis-Curry
Tucked away in the Ecuadorian hills of the Pichincha Province is a developing coffee farm called Finca Maputo. After driving for nearly three hours through small villages and meandering dirt roads leading into the tropical, foggy “cloud forests” of northern Ecuador, Henry Gaibor welcomed me onto his humble coffee farm. He told me he loved whiskey as well as coffee. He had a lot to say about local politics. But what he talked about most was how important the farm was for the local people. Henry is an accomplished doctor who met his wife and co-owner of the farm, Verena, working with Doctors without Borders in Burundi, Africa. Three years ago he and his wife retired to the labor of love that is speciality coffee.
Finca Maputo is located on the equator, which--unlike many coffee farms around the world--enables the farm to grow coffee year-round. The area is known for butterflies and is surrounded by rivers with hundreds of small waterfalls. The cloud forest in this region of Ecuador, which is marked by a persistent fog that hangs over everything, is on the outskirts of the Amazon rainforest. Due to this unique climate, I was given the rare experience to see all of the harvest cycles at different stages in a single day. Finca Maputo primarily grows Typica variety but it also is one of the few Ecuadorian coffee farms growing the Kenyan bean SL28. Due to the constant humidity, after wash processing their coffee beans, the farm uses African raised beds to dry them out.
The in-depth knowledge gained around growing practices and varieties was invaluable, but it was far from the only thing on my mind that day. At Nossa Familia, we not only roast and brew the highest quality coffee but also work to ensure that our coffee is ethically and sustainably sourced. Taking care of their workers on the farm is a top priority for the Gaibors, and they work tirelessly to provide them with fair wages and safe working conditions. The farm owners have used the profit earned thus far to ensure an ethical environment for employees. Now that this ethic is ingrained in the farm’s mission, they are looking to increase visibility within specialty coffee markets.
As a barista in Nossa Familia’s Espresso Bar, the process and practice of coffee farming seems far away from the shots of espresso I pull every day for our customers in Portland. Having the opportunity to witness first-hand the passion and hard work that go into coffee farming--like that of the Gaibors and their farm workers--was an inspiring look into what makes coffee and the work of everyone involved so special.