Since we first began sourcing and roasting our own coffee, we have developed a strong relationship with the Guarnizo family who own and operate farms in Huila, Colombia. You may be familiar with their name because this family of nine siblings (eight brothers and one sister) collectively produce our most popular single origin offering: Colombia La Familia Guarnizo. Their farms sit high on the eastern slopes of the Central Cordillera in the Andes Mountains, a nearly 2 hour upward journey by car from the nearest municipality of Tarqui, where the purchasing station is located.
Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to be able to travel to visit the Guarnizos every year, including this past August 2019. But with the coronavirus pandemic unfolding on a global scale, we were unable to do so this year. Luckily, our sourcing partners, Caravela Coffee, have team members on the ground who work closely with farmers. Maricela Trujillo, Caravela’s PECA representative who works in this region, has been immensely helpful in helping us stay connected with the Guarnizos, and so we asked for her help in bringing you these stories from the farm. In this video, filmed in June 2020, the Guarnizo siblings share their experiences from this season’s harvest in the midst of a pandemic.
The pandemic has affected the family’s daily lives in many ways. All the siblings agree that the biggest sacrifice they’ve faced is the lack of schooling for their children. Otherwise, the obstacles have been logistical, but the Guarnizos have risen to the challenge. In Huila, the government imposed travel restrictions, designating days and times residents can enter municipalities based on their ID card numbers. This has not only limited the family’s ability to travel to Tarqui for shopping or delivering coffee to the purchasing station, but it has prevented day laborers from entering the region, causing a shortage of labor to harvest the coffee.
Needless to say, being a big family has been tremendously helpful! We’ve always admired the Guarnizos for how they collaborate with one another, but the pandemic has necessitated a new level of collaboration. They have taken turns harvesting coffee at each farm, even enlisting neighbors to help, and working longer hours to cover the necessary ground.
Wilmar, the oldest sibling, tells us that the pandemic hasn’t stopped him from constantly experimenting and innovating with fermentation to improve quality. Indeed, the resounding message from the Guarnizos has been one of resilience and a determined commitment to maintaining and raising the bar on quality, in spite of the very challenging circumstances.
Pictured below (top-bottom, left-right):
Orfandy, Luis Alfredo, Wilson, Yimi, Didier, Alexis & his wife Diana, Yilberto, Jose Javier, Wilmar