In Conversation with Kylee Clancy, Verve’s Green Coffee Buyer, as she discusses the Colombia Nursery Project with us.
How long did the Nursery Project take to start producing coffee?
We started the Nursery Project over four years ago, and we spent quite some time with our partners in Colombia to identify what was going to be the best coffee variety for the coffee community in Urrao as a whole. We wanted a variety that was sturdy enough to withstand disease and climate change as Urrao is a dry and mountainous region where frost is commonplace, and then from a cupping perspective, we wanted a coffee that had an amazing cup quality so that it would be successful for us to bring to market.
Which coffee variety was chosen for the Colombia Nursery Project?
We landed on planting the endemic variety Cattura Chiroso - it essentially checks all the boxes that we were looking for and the producers in Urrao were really excited about planting it for this project. It’s high-yield, easy to harvest, strong, and cups amazingly well.
What makes Urrao, Colombia a unique place for this project?
Urrao is a remote region in Northern Colombia. It was a long trial process figuring out how we could use the region to our advantage. It’s so dry and pretty arid which actually ended up being more beneficial to our cause as the region is filled with open field spaces. This is a benefit for the coffee farmers because unlike other areas where deforestation is required to plant coffee, the area is already naturally open which makes it ideal to start planting without harming or changing the natural environment.
How does the Nursery Project tie into Verve’s Farmlevel Initiative?
The Nursery Project is an example of how we partner with our coffee partners and coffee communities at origin. This is the basis of the Farmlevel Initiative - it’s how we positively impact our coffee supply chain. The Colombia Nursery Project lives on after this initial harvest - as partners, we get the privilege to help establish this nursery from the beginning, but we’ll be able to buy and share these coffees with our customers year after year for the next forty to fifty years as a result of our connection with the smallholder producers in Urrao.
What does Farmlevel mean to you?
Farmlevel is all about the coffee community as a whole. I believe that Farmlevel goes hand in hand with the entire seed-to-cup process of Farmlevel to Streetlevel. With Streetlevel, I’m always thinking about that coffee interaction - our customer comes into our cafe and learns about the coffee story behind the coffee they purchase. This story traces all the way back to the farm and the coffee farmers, which is so much deeper than the surface story of learning about coffee cherries. That deep coffee farming connection is what makes it Farmlevel. Farmlevel connects the whole process that goes into creating a healthy and sustainable coffee farming community through fair and honest practices and ethics.
On the green coffee side, it really comes down to great coffee and great people. What I want people to think about Verve whether they are buying our coffee from our cafes, online or from the grocery store, is for them to understand that this is really good coffee and it came from really good people. Good coffee, good people. That’s what Verve is all about.