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Monkaaba in Colombia

Based in San Agustin, Huila, this producer-led training and support organization aims is to connect with small producers who have been historically unable to access a market outside of selling in parchment for local market prices, or worse, selling their coffee cherries in their raw, depulped form.

Headed up by young grower Esnaider Ortega-Gómez, Monkaaba supports local producers through weekly cupping sessions. Producers are invited to bring samples of their coffee for free sensory evaluation and receive feedback on everything from processing and drying to preparing for export and understanding the international specialty market.

While this may seem obvious, this is a rare and special opportunity for small producers that offers them a seat at the table and increases their understanding of their own product, something many of them have never had the chance to taste themselves.

Meet Esnaider Ortega-Gómez

Esnaider is more than a coffee producer to P.S., he’s a dear friend with whom we have shared many hours in deep conversations around life, coffee, and philosophy.

Don Olgar, Esnaider's father, is a well-respected coffee producer in San Agustín and his father, Esnaider's grandfather, is a member of one of the earliest coffee-growing generations in the region. To say that coffee is in the blood of this family would be an understatement.

Not only does the Ortega-Gómez family produce amazing coffee, they pay their workers some of the highest prices in the area, while also operating a communal plot where they grow and share food.

Through Monkaaba, we’ve connected with many small growers who are making their first steps into international sale.

Achieving this requires risk, for them and for Monkaaba. As such, Semilla operates an anticipo program that offers 50% up front, without quality guarantees or interest, on smallholder lots for those interested to pursue a new way of working. Along the way, they receive open access to information and the opportunity to form a long term relationship they can count on. And while it may sound trite, this latter fact is no small feat -- 98% of Colombian coffee growers sell their coffee on the conventional market.

This is Jhon Jairo. With the help of Monkaaba, we were the first international buyers of his coffees & taking it out of the hands of low-paying intermediaries.