HUILA: Presentation of this famous Colombian terroir

Jao Joel

Huila is very famous throughout the world for the quality of the coffee grown there and... for having won the heart of Hugh Jackman.

First of all, for the record, the actor who plays the character of Wolverine on screen set up Laughing Man (Cafe and Foundation) : a company which mobilizes a good part of its income for the improvement of living conditions of coffee growing families. In 2018, Hugh Jackman chose to source his coffee from Huila, Colombia - precisely from the COOCENTRAL Coop cooperative - and to concentrate his social action programs there (health, education, housing, etc.). He went there to visit the plantations and filmed touching marketing videos there.

Anyway, all that to say that we buy our coffee at the same place as Wolverine :)

We also do business with COOCENTRAL Coop and support its social actions. It is a cooperative which brings together no less than 4000 member farmers. 

About the Huila region

Huila is a department in Colombia, COOCENTRAL extends its activities over 7 municipalities in the Huila department , namely Garzon, Gigante, Agrado, El Pital, Tarqui, Suaza and Guadalupe. COOCENTRAL's head office is located in Garzon.

Huila is a mountainous region in the southeast of the country whose climatic and environmental conditions are optimal for coffee cultivation. This terroir is in fact located in the Central and Eastern cordilleras and benefits from very fertile volcanic soil.

Agriculture is the main sector of activity in the region, plantain, rice, passion fruit, yucca, cocoa... in addition to coffee.

The coffee produced there has a very complex but easily recognizable aromatic profile: in 2013 it obtained Appellation of Origin certification (like Champagne and Roquefort).

At the origin of its particular profile - light acidity, medium body, sweet notes, fruity and caramelized aromas - we cite a constant annual temperature between 17°C and 23°C, an average altitude between 900 m and 1800 m, without count the genetic heritage of the chosen botanical variety: Caturra, Colombia and Castillo.

The region is also home to impressive remains of pre-Columbian civilizations, including the impressive megalithic sculptures/statues at the San Augustin Archaeological Park.

It is also a vacation spot for hikers and nature lovers: the Magdalena canyon, the national park housing the Nevado del Huila volcano and the Tatacoa desert are very popular destinations for frequent travelers.

The region's architecture is also among the curiosities that are worth the detour: there are a large number of Catholic cathedrals and buildings of colonial architecture.

About Cooperativa Central de Caficultores del Huila (COOCENTRAL)

The COOCENTRAL farmers' cooperative has existed since 1975 and today has more than 4,000 members : it acts as a non-profit cooperative with a social vocation. Environmental conservation, social and economic equity, respect for rights and union representation are all values ​​dear to the coop, in addition to the optimal quality of coffee harvests and the improvement of farmers' living conditions.

The coop helps the local community with concrete actions in the areas of health, education, professional training, technical support, financial loans, housing ... We also owe COOCENTRAL the construction of several stations collection and drying which allow better quality control and traceability of exports.

Just like everywhere else in Colombia (second producer of arabicas after Brazil and third producer of coffee in general after Brazil and Vietnam), coffee represents more than just an agricultural product that sells well on the international market: coffee Coffee is an integral part of the country's culture and history .

Coffee culture not only encouraged the birth of the commercial sector that is coffee farming, but also shaped the daily life and way of life of locals, in addition to shaping the landscape and the ecosystem.

There are no less than 600,000 coffee growing families spread across Colombia, coffee generates no less than 800,000 direct jobs, an average of 900,000 hectares are cultivated per year.

COOCENTRAL coop team in the El Pital region, Huila, ColombiaCOOCENTRAL coop team in El Pital, Colombia

The importance of coffee in the economy is such that a national federation of coffee producers has been in place since 1927 to protect the interests of farmers and their families, in Colombia and abroad.

On June 25, 2011, Colombia's coffee cultural landscape was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site , signifying the involvement of the government and international institutions in preserving this cultural wealth.

This recognition rewards the superhuman efforts of Colombian coffee pioneers to master the hostile environmental conditions of the Andes mountains. This perseverance was inherited and applied over the generations that followed (constant efforts and innovative strategies), until giving birth to a perfect marriage between economic, cultural and environmental parameters: a unique social dynamic in the world created by a relationship harmonious between the main livelihood, nature and culture.

The cultural landscape of Colombia's coffee is of great importance in the international coffee trade, because this predominant place that coffee occupies guarantees the quality and competitiveness of Colombian coffee.

Reason among others - and in particular to preserve this cultural heritage - that the producers' federation puts this aspect forward and initiated the creation in 1960 of the fictional character and logo Juan Valdez , a true quality label of "Café de Colombia".

This character created to represent Colombian coffee is played, among others, by the American actor of Cuban origin José F. Duval, Carlos Sanchez and Carlos Castañeda . This international marketing campaign's mission was to bring recognition to Colombian products on the American and global markets.

Since then, the character of Juan Valdez has enjoyed great success and has become essential to popular culture (even the very archetype of the Colombian peasant), whom we know as a worker, humble, persevering, valuing family and his village ... and donning sombrero, poncho, white panama, beautiful mustache, ...: he is the official ambassador of products bearing the Café de Colombia certification, obtained in 2005.

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