Antioquia was the ‘wild west’ of the country for many years and was initially settled almost entirely by gold miners. During the latter part of the 19th century, coffee was introduced in the mountainous, fertile borderlands of the department, and Antioquia became one of Colombia’s most important coffee producing areas, bolstered by ideal coffee growing conditions made possible by the central and western cordilleras (mountain ranges) that cross the department. As of the 1980s, coffee was the most important export from the region.
Despite the department’s ideal setting as a producer of speciality coffee, for many years it was overlooked in Colombia’s portfolio of powerhouse coffee producing regions. This is rapidly changing, in part, due to the priorities of the department’s current Governor, Sergio Fajardo. Fajardo was previously the mayor of Medellín, Antioquia’s capital city known for many years as a violent and dangerous place. Fajardo led a remarkable transformation of the city, turning it into a world class tourist destination with a strong economy. Coffee (and the valorisation of the department’s production) has been at the heart of this ‘makeover’, and these days, Antioquia is truly on the speciality ‘coffee map’. Of course, Mercanta and our partners in the region certainly played a role, here, too, as we’ve worked with our partners in the region since before Antioquia was ‘cool’, and every year we are able to bring in amazing, new micro-lots due to the groundwork we laid in those early years.