In pursuit of the freshest cup


Last year Steven and I made a trip to a new coffee shop, nothing out of the ordinary there. Except when I tell you we had to travel nearly 5,500 miles to get there. Not only was it a long trip but this isn’t even a coffee shop we supply coffee to… Instead we buy coffee from them every year and have done since 2003.

Let me explain. The owner of the coffee shop in question is ASPROTIMANA, a producer organisation located in the small town of Timaná, department of Huila, Colombia. The desire to start a specialty coffee shop in Timaná had been there for a long time, the dream was to close the cycle from cherry to roasted bean. And so in November 2014, that dream was finally realised: the Timaná Coffee Shop.

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Their approach is very professional; all staff members receive a complete coffee education; how to roast, brew and serve the perfect cup. The shop is funded with the help of development cooperation, but the largest investment came from ASPROTIMANA themselves.

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Their objective is to teach consumers about quality and let them enjoy their own regional coffee. They are unique. A shop of this quality level is not to be found anywhere near. Their other aim to keep young people involved in the coffee business, a real issue of the modern age in this part of the world. Like in many other places in the world Timaná coffee farmers are aging. Their sons and daughters move to the city in search for more exiting and financially rewarding jobs than producing coffee. This shops allows for 4 young baristas, all sons and daughters of ASPROTIMANA, to work as professional baristas and keep them engaged in the industry.

They serve a blend of coffees cultivated by their members and as you might expect it’s hand-roasted with great skill, by Robinson’s (president of ASPROTIMANA) wife to a light-medium roast profile.

There is a focus on making consumers aware of the different preparation methods and their effect on flavour, acidity and body. Consumers can order, espresso, cappuccino, but also a French Press, Aeropress or Chemex, that’s more than many of the well known coffee shops in the UK! When asked what the most popular drinks are, the answer is the frozen one’s and with the warm (hot!), humid climate in Timaná that is understandable. Cappuccino’s and Chemex are also really popular.

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Of course we tried the espresso (and a Frappuccino after that!), and we were surprised by its bright acidity, sweetness and subtle taste.

Whilst sipping our espresso, Robinson shared the story of the town of Timaná… one of the oldest villages in Colombia, colonised by the Spanish in December 1538, led by General Pedro de Añazco who was also a founder of many municipalities. According to history, the origin of the municipality corresponds to the existence of the tribes of the Timana, Yalcones and Apiramas Indians, under the commans of the chiefs (Caciques in Spanish) Inando, Pionza, Añolongo, Meco, Timano y La Gaitana.

The story goes that when this territory was invaded by the Spanish colonisers, its inhabitants rebelled. The tribe was characterised by their strength, union and labor. Therefore, it’s said it was one of the strongest wars against European invasion. The war was led by by Timanco, a warrior chieftain, son of the leader of the community: Gaitana.

Timanco was captured by the Spaniards and burnt alive before his tribe as a sign of supremacy and superiority, which unleashed the wrath of his mother, Gaitana. Together with her family and tribe she captured Pedro Añazco . He was drawn through the whole village, his eyes were removed before he was beheaded by Gaitana herself. It is said she hold his head in her hand, as a symbol of victory. (Image from google)

Timaná throughout history has remained an icon of freedom.

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The present inhabitants of Timaná are peaceful, with a great passion for the cultivation of coffee and as we learned that day with a great passion for coffee brewing too!

I have no doubt this shop will only continue to flourish.

Pascale - Coffee lover, traveller and mother
Written by Pascale - Coffee lover, traveller and mother
I have worked with Union Hand-Roasted Coffee since 2011 and I have taken the Union Direct Trade model to another level. I now live in between El Salvador and Panama with my partner, Graciano Cruz, the renowned coffee farmer. This means I get to start my days drinking my favourite coffee variety: Geisha, honey or natural, preferably drip. I am a mother to baby Eliah, who joins me on most of my origin trips. I have an MSc. in International Development, specialised in rural economics. I'm fluent in Spanish, born in the Netherlands...struggling with British language and expressions. I work on a daily basis with cooperatives and farmers in Latin America and Africa on all kinds of socio-economic aspects from transparency, gender and environmental issues to farm workers rights. I am convinced that specialty coffee does makes a difference to farmers and helps create more sustainable livelihoods. I Spend a large amount of my time walking on farms, embraced by nature, working with beautiful people or cupping the world’s best coffee’s. I have the best job in the world!