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Whole Latte Love Article:Colombian Coffee: More than Juan Valdez

Posted: 08/20/08
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Think of Colombian Coffee and the first thing that comes to mind is a poncho-wearing coffee farmer and his beloved mule. That's because for more than half a century the fictional character, Juan Valdez, has been the spokesperson for Colombian Coffee. This Dates back to 1959, when the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia coronated Valdez as its head honcho, encouraging him to appear in countless ads promoting one of the nation's largest exports – coffee.

It's Colombia's varied topography-- its mountains and valleys-- which have led to the unmatched growing conditions for Arabica coffee beans. In fact, more than 9 million bags of Colombian coffee beans are exported annually. But those beans don't pick themselves. Juan Valdez and the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia want you to know that more than 500,000 coffee farmers participate in this non-profit organization that ensures premium prices for Colombian coffee.

Through the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia, the Colombian farmers have managed to achieve enormous results. Today, Colombian coffee sells at a significantly higher price on the international coffee market than other varieties. So even in today's volatile economy, Colombian farmers are enjoying a stable income. Similar to that of the coffee co-ops in Africa, all the profits are channeled back to their communities.

What makes this organization so unique is the rigorous quality control standards, according to a spokesperson from the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia. From day one, the growing conditions are closely monitored. Each bean is examined to ensure size, color, texture and overall quality. Once they've passed the first test, they're bagged in the traditional burlap bags and loaded onto mules to go to market. From there the beans are examined again before they're brought to the mill where they're screened and sorted by size and weight. It's at this point that the green beans are sealed and stamped with the Colombian coffee seal of approval and ready for export.

And that official seal, or mark, ensures consistent high quality of coffee with consumers throughout North America, according to the President of the Colombian Coffee Federation, and meets the Republic's standards for quality.