Colombia La Mina
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DIRECT TRADE PARTNER
Franco José Héctor López
Finca La Mina
Orange | Plum | Dried Cherry
The Cup of Excellence (CoE) is the world’s most rigorous and prestigious coffee competition. Our Vice President of Coffee and Green Coffee Buyer for Colombia, Geoff Watts, has served as a judge on more than 20 CoE juries, including the 2010 Colombia competition held in Nariño, where hometown coffees dominated.
After that event, he began poking around the region with our friends from the specialty coffee exporter Inconexus. He met Franco José Héctor López, a grower in Buesaco who took eighth place that year with a lot from his small farm, La Mina. We have been working together ever since. That’s in part because La Mina is a perfect example of what the social science literature calls “positive deviance.”
A case of positive deviance is one in which an individual who shares many of the same attributes as others in a broader population achieves outcomes that are significantly better than those of others in the group. It is a success story without a ready explanation; identifying the drivers of its deviation from the average has the potential to help others achieve the same outcomes.
There is nothing especially conspicuous about La Mina. At first glance, it is virtually indistinguishable from any of the other small coffee farms scattered across the gently rolling hills of Buesaco. But the López family’s attention to detail sets La Mina apart. The farm’s selective cherry harvesting, obsessive selection, and meticulous processing have made it one of the country’s most decorated farms — five CoE wins and counting — and an exemplary deviation from the mean.
In 2018, we convened dozens of smallholder growers in Nariño to explore coffee quality as part of our ECWx Colombia event. When we were putting together the agenda, there was no doubt about where our first stop would be: La Mina, the little farm with a big reputation.
— Michael Sheridan
Director of Sourcing and Shared Value