We have visited more than a few farms and we can vouch for the fact that Amparo Maya and her farm are truly something special. There’s a lot to appreciate about her farm, La Finca Las Mangas: a grove of avocado trees, citrus trees of all varieties, a coffee roasting room complete with packaging equipment, and some of the cutest (and most well cared for) dogs on earth. But all of that is second to the magically peaceful energy that permeates the space. Amparo’s commitment to and connection with the earth are a palpable force. This dedication and connection to the earth are reflected in her coffee and are her guiding principals. We visited to learn about her and her coffee, but we walked away inspired and awed by her words of wisdom.
"It begins with the earth. In the earth is where we begin and we have to make the connection with the earth. We have to see it, feel it, and listen to it to find what it tells you. There is so much to learn behind the coffee: I take a sip from this coffee and 'Wow, I need to share it.'
Q: What are some valuable things coffee has taught you?
A: My name is Amparo Maya and I have been farming coffee for 35 years. I really didn't know anything about coffee. It begins with the earth. In the earth is where we begin and we have to make the connection with the earth. We have to recognize that the earth is where the coffee starts and finds its significance. We have to see it, feel it, and listen to it to find what it tells you. There is so much to learn behind the coffee: there is an individual, a collective, social and a psychological component in coffee. Once you get all of the components, that is when the coffee becomes important/significant/valuable. In the fields, we have to learn to give respect and value to all of the things in the land. I take a sip from this coffee and "Wow, I need to share it." The personal aspect is that I have had to overcome a lot of things. First, the unknown from the field. Toxic masculinity is a big thing in the fields that I have had to deal with. I have had to fight hard in respect to this. I don't have anything against men; I treasure them and I do not think there is anything different between us. They are as strong and beautiful as a woman. Sometimes in the field when a woman feels tired, it is frowned upon. Men feel the same way: however, they do not show it.
"When the whole world tells you that you can't, you begin to believe that you can't. But there is a moment where you have a glimmer of belief inside yourself that says 'you can' that you have to hold on to. Anything you have in your mind you can create. Everything in our mind is able to be unraveled and actualized."
Q: What's your connection to coffee?
A: Before I started farming coffee 35 years ago, I really didn't know anything about it. You cannot sit back and dwell on your misfortune. There is a learning in all of it. What is interesting about human beings is our ability to move beyond our problems. The problems we have encountered are infinite. At the end of the day, all your problems are nothing more than a silly scare. Behind the problem lies your fear. The problem is our opportunity to overcome the difficulties in the world. People die from fear.
Q: What makes this location so special?
A: Coffee is a cultivar and apart from the highs and lows that is has and that it is not the easiest to manage. When I started in coffee, it felt impossible to make a difference. The biggest challenge is fighting your own ignorance. Second, you have to fight the outside voices that say you can't. You have to generate something unique, to be true to yourself and to serve those around you.
It presents an amazing opportunity and we want to provide an incredible product. It's a perfect opportunity to share and communicate with the world through the end product.
"You are the one behind the coffee cup. You are the essence, you are the one drinking it. My desire to give the world something good."
It is my opportunity to share my work with the people. It's an equal exchange between the drinker and me. You are drinking the final product of 35 years of work. You are drinking my strength and my love for life. It is my opportunity to share my work with the people. It's an equal exchange between the drinker and me.
Q: What's your dream for the farm?
A: I want to finish planting the farm. There is one more section to complete. But more importantly, my mission is to feed the people in Colombia. There are many that are suffering from hunger. I want to build an empire that creates a viable livelihood for me and for the people who work here. It is hard to raise the price of the coffee with the current coffee price crisis. There is always a speculative market that hurts us and does not have a conscience. There is a population that only wants money and that is a challenge; capitalism is such an intense force. It's a part of the unconscious of the world. But I know in my heart that we are all the same and we are all searching for the opportunity to unravel ourselves.
Amparo, it's an honor to meet you. Working so long in coffee, it is hard to find a place where you can feel the courage and the force from the land so strongly. It is reflected in the cup of coffee you deliver.
We believe the coffee experience is our responsibility from seed to cup. Coffee is our craft, our ritual, our passion. It drives us and inspires us. With this simple truth and responsibility we are bridging the gap from farmlevel to streetlevel.