Frutos de la Restitución, Colombia


From conflict to commercial entrepreneurs: helping Colombian coffee growers get their business back


From the 1970s onwards, decades of war between the Colombian Army, paramilitary and other groups forced 7.7 million Colombians to abandon their lands. In 2000, the growers and farmers of the village of El Tablon de Gomez suffered the same fate as many of their compatriots. To save their families, they had to leave their livelihoods and move to other areas, knowing that all their assets would be lost.


More than 10 years later, thanks to the Victims and Land Restitution Law passed by the government of Colombia in 2011, these producers were able to come back and live on their lands. Through a program run by the Unidad de Restitucion de Tierras (URT), or Land Restitution Unit, they have been able to cultivate their farms once more, growing specialty varieties including Caturra, Colombia and Castillo, all of which benefit from soils that are derived from the ash of the Dona Juana volcano.


Working in partnership with the URT


Once the growers had had their lands and rights restored, the URT needed to find a commercial partner for them. In February 2019 Pablo Perez, the leader of the URT in the region, contacted Wilmer Lopez, who heads up the operations of specialty producer and ECOM partner, Condor, in Narino. In line with ECOM’s inventive, innovative outlook, Wilmer is continuously looking for new suppliers and ways to grow. “We want to serve coffee growers so that they can have a very transparent commercial relationship with a
roaster,” says Wilmer. That transparent approach led Pablo Perez to realise that Condor was the ideal partner for these growers. They were appointed and, several months later, began receiving samples.


Unrivalled quality


The coffee from the producers in Tablon de Gomez not only represents an important initiative for social justice and progress in Colombia, but the sheer quality of the coffee is a testament to the families’ resilience and strength.


From the moment Wilmer started receiving samples from the farmers, he recognised each lot’s potential. As one of Condor’s sommeliers, he knows what specialty buyers are looking for. Each sample was evaluated by a quality team in Pasto, then sent to the main laboratory in Bogota and finally to colleagues all around the globe. In three weeks, in the middle of lockdown, more than 30,000kg were sold, enabling Condor to pay 46 different producers directly – a premium for quality never before obtained.


What creates this quality? The farmers pick the coffee in small batches day by day and ferment it using small pulpers and tanks. The coffee is dried on concrete patios, solar driers and raised beds, taking advantage of the climate and the incredible elevation – over 1,900 masl - in this far southwestern corner of Colombia. Narino’s high level of sun exposure make it almost unparalleled in Colombia for the quality of its coffee, giving rise to flavours of dark fruit, mild citrus and pecan.


A flourishing future


The URT calls the coffees from these families the “Frutas de Restitucion” – the fruits of restitution. These farmers are no longer victims of armed conflict. They are entrepreneur
producers, the champions of their family plots. At ECOM, we are committed to help more families like these connect to the specialty market, bringing their exceptional product to a worldwide audience.


If you’d like to try a sample of Narino coffee, get in touch today at .

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