TO OUR VALUED PARTNERS AND FRIENDS,

We’d like to shed light on the current state of Nariño’s coffee harvest, which is grappling with a series of significant challenges resulting from climate change and its contributing and resulting factors. It goes without saying that this origin is near and dear to our hearts and home to countless of our longest-lasting relationships with partner producers. The municipalities of north central and western Nariño now face a complex reality that demands our attention, especially for those with established buying relationships with Nariñense partner producers and communities, many of them among the smallest of the smallholders we have the privilege of partnering with. While we are working diligently to understand projections, and quality from each of our longstanding partners in Nariño. If you’d like a customized update about specific producers, relationship coffees or want to navigate alternative solutions to meet your volume needs please reach out to your relationship manager.

The interplay of reduced sun exposure, lower temperatures, and excess humidity has had a profound impact on both the quality and volume of coffee production. Between 2020 and December 2022, Nariño experienced a substantial decline in monthly sun exposure, with coffee fields enduring a significant reduction of 25% in sunlight hours. Moreover, the northern and western regions witnessed temperatures dropping to as low as 2 and 3°C. These dramatic climate fluctuations have disrupted the delicate balance of the coffee plantations, resulting in stunted growth and erratic flowering patterns. Consequently, the overall yield has been significantly affected. Data collected for A Sustainable Coffee Buyer’s Guide’s on Nariño over the last few years show a drastic decline in production as a result of these challenges. Yields per hectare show an overall negative trend: farms averaged 1,267.69 kg per hectare in 2018, which increased to 1,590.21 in 2019 but then steadily began decreasing in 2020 through 2022, with last year’s average of just 774.21 kg of parchment coffee per hectare.

Both our regional Pasto-based and Armenia quality teams have been closely monitoring this situation, striving to understand the reasons behind the diminished quality and volume of this season’s incoming coffee cherry. Jayson Galvis, our Head of Quality and Product, has been diligently following this prolonged climatic situation known as La Niña for several years now and we began seeing the consequences in earnest during last year’s harvest as well but hadn’t yet fully anticipated or understood how drastic the effects would continue to be. While climate change is a major contributing factor, the exorbitant prices of fertilizers have compounded the challenges, directly impacting the crop’s quality.

Nariño has also experienced an atypical presence of Broca, or coffee borer beetle damage, which is somewhat unusual for this higher-altitude origin, and is mostly caused by sudden climatic shifts that cause heavier rain than usual combined with short moments of drought or sequía. As a result, we have observed an increase in immature beans ultimately reducing productivity per tree and exacerbating the shortage of this year’s harvest. Additionally, changes in the ripening cycle of the cherry have resulted in a higher occurrence of black and vinegar beans. In the most recent weekly reports from our Pasto lab, we have encountered significant challenges with the quality of the analyzed samples. Up to 61% have been rejected due to physical defects in the beans and the resulting subpar cup quality. Furthermore, an average of 19% of the samples have been rejected due to humidity- related issues. It is important to note that only a limited 20% of the weekly samples meet our internal quality standards, emphasizing the severity of the situation.

Our Fundación Manos al Grano team has been in Nariño since this past Monday, conducting farm visits with our partner producers led by regional quality manager Jairito Muñoz to better understand the needs of each farmer whose harvest crop might be implicated. We will be updating you on each respective situation as soon as possible.

As we progress into the second and third quarters of 2023, Nariño’s harvest is already underway, and our quality team anticipates a staggering 55% decrease in production compared to previous years. We acknowledge the immense difficulties that lie ahead, and we remain committed to overcoming these challenges with unwavering determination. We believe it is imperative we recognize this reality, communicate in the most transparent fashion and plan accordingly and in an informed manner in order to find solutions for our green clients sourcing needs and, crucially, to be able to anticipate and communicate the needs and expectations of our partner producers.

Rest assured that we are closely monitoring the situation and working diligently to mitigate the impact on our coffee supply chain. We will continue to provide you with updates as we navigate this tumultuous period together and want to extend an open invitation to communicate with your respective relationship managers to schedule a more in depth and personalized call to action. We will also be reaching out individually as aforementioned.

Thank you for your continued trust and support.