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Our Specialty Coffee

The Federation has its own definition for specialty coffee: "Coffee is considered to be specialty coffee when it is perceived and valued by consumers for a characteristic that differentiates it from standard coffee and for which consumers are willing to pay a premium." In order for this coffee to be truly specialty, the premium for which consumers are willing to pay must also represent a benefit for coffee growers.

In this way the specialty coffee that the FNC offers has an implicit guarantee of transmitting greater income to coffee farmers. A coffee categorized as specialty not only depends on whether the consumer appreciates it as such, but also for the accomplishment of certain requirements: it should provide appropriate incentives for coffee growers to continue growing it.

Our focus in the specialty coffee industry is to construct long-term relationships between our clients, consumers and the coffee-growing communities. This objective is developed through our vision of Sustainability That Matters, developing alliances with our clients who are interested in the future of our communities.

Our specialty coffee programs seek to generate an offering of specialized products that construct long term relationships with our clients. Coffee growers appreciate these relationships that, over time, tend to become deeper and generate greater customer loyalty around the world. To obtain a better understanding of the impact of these programs, please visit our testimonals section.

To understand the diversity of products and their possible combinations, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation has divided its portfolio of specialty coffee into three general categories: Coffee of OriginSustainable Coffee and Technified Coffee. These categories can be combined to produce unique coffee types for clients that want to develop highly sophisticated products.

Coffee of Origin: This is coffee that comes from a region or estate with unique qualities, given that it is grown in unique locations. They are sold in the same manner to the final consumer without be blended with beans with other characteristics or from other regions. The clients prefer them for their unique aromas and tastes. Within this coffee of origin the FNC offers various choices:

  • Regional Coffee: These are coffees that derive from specific regions, renowned for their particular qualities. These are offered to clients in their pure form, without being blended with coffee from other origins. These coffees demand the highest quality standards.
  • Exotic Coffee: These are coffees with unique tastes that are cultivated within microclimates, agrecologies, and social cultures that are unique to their geographical locations.
  • Estate Coffee: These coffees come from estates that produce over 500 60kg bags of coffee per year and that comply with the most stringent quality standards.

Sustainable Coffee: This category seeks to exercise a strict supervision over the social, environmental, and economical factors involved in growing coffee, in order to guarantee the future of the people and communities that grow coffee. These communities have a very serious dedication to protecting the environment, the biodiversity of their regions, and the promotion of "fair market" practices within emerging markets. Sustainable coffees utilize certification processes and/or processes that adhere to specific codes of conduct.

Certified Coffee

Certified coffee is that complying with a series of defined standards that are internationally recognized by certification agencies. These agencies are independent entities that are generally based in countries with high consumption rates and that establish their own compliance and verification programs.

To select the standard that most closely corresponds with coffee growers according to the environment of their region, the desired volumes of production and the expected demand for the certified coffee, the Federation and its Departmental Committees evaluate the different options and their related costs. Subsequently, through the active participation of the Extension Service, the necessary actions are implemented in order to adhere to the chosen certification standards and to optimize the costs of certification that are demanded by these agencies.

The Federation has defined the sub categories of sustainable coffee as:

  • Environmentally Friendly: These are coffees that are recognized for their relationship with the environment and the biodiversity of the region. They seek to maintain equilibrium between the human presence and the natural resources through friendly harvesting practices, e.g. The Rainforest Alliance Certification.
  • Social Context: Revolving around a productive project, within a series of social and cultural development: The associated work of various coffee growers, the dedication to solidarity, and improvement of the quality of life and the protection of the environment. The commercialization involves maintaining a relationship between clients and coffee growers through the Federation in order to transmit to producers the best possible premiums and client inputs so as to improve their well-being; e.g. FLO (Fair-trade Labeling Organization) Certification.
  • Organic Coffee: These coffees are cultivated without the use of either agrochemicals or chemical fertilizers.  They are commercialized with certifications expedited by specialized firms that are responsible for inspecting and overseeing the cultivation, millage, storage and transportation processes.
  • "Good Inside": These coffee growers comply with the UTZ certification standards and are thus strongly devoted to following good agricultural practices and the proper administration of their estates.

Besides the various varieties of certified coffee, there also exist specific codes of conduct that are defined by entities and international clients associated with coffee. Amongst these the following stand out:

  • Conservation International
  • Nespresso AAA
  • CAFÉ Practices
  • 4C

The codes of conduct: 4C, Conservation International and Nespresso AAA; have become a sustainable platform for Colombian coffee growers, their practices facilitate the compliance of necessary standards for gaining access to different countries.

The FNC offers coffees that can have up to three different certifications. In many regions, there already exists estates that are certified as both FLO & Organic, and FLO & Rainforest, and some estates even have acquired UTZ, Rainforest, Organic & FLO certifications.

For further information about the different certification standards please consult the website of any of the following entities:

Technified Coffee:  This is coffee that is unique in terms of size and form and that is desired by the international markets for being so. Coffees that comply with the unique preferences of particular clients and that are blended together to offer a consistent product also belong to these category. Within this category the following coffees standout:

  • Shell-shaped Coffee: These coffees are cultivated in high altitudes, where the coffee cherries are selected for their unique shell shapes, which have particularly high acidity levels. These coffees are appreciated by buyers because their homogeneous size permits them to be homogeneously roasted.
  • Supremo Coffee: These are coffees that are offered according to a coffee grading metric and include Europa, Extra Supremo, and Premium.
  • Premium Coffee:  Coffees that result from a careful selection according to particular client requests and following a defined protocol.

In the specialty coffee market, it is not out of the ordinary for different clients to request coffees that meet more than one category, for example:

Origin + Sustainable + Technified. In any event we should assure that the premiums generated by the sale of specialty coffee reach the coffee growing communities in order to comply with our definition of specialty coffee.

For further information, please do not hesitate in communicating with our offices.

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