The purpose of the project is to improve the life quality of 123 small-farm coffee growing families that belong to the mountain range - Cuchilla del San Juan, avoiding the pollution generated by the traditional wet coffee processes.
Coffee is not just a beverage. It is the world's second most traded commodity of which millions of people depend on. In Colombia, it is mainly grown by small-farm owners that usually have a processing facility on their farm, with inefficient machines that generate a dramatic environmental impact. The traditional web coffee process consumes around 40 liters of water per 1 kilogram of dry coffee beans and the wastewater is thrown into the local river system with no treatment. People downstream drink this polluted water, causing serious gastric problems, especially in the vulnerable population of children and elderly.
In May of 2008, a group of 32 coffee growers joined to create the Association of Producers of High Quality Coffee - Cuchilla del San Juan, located in Belén de Umbría, Department of Risaralda, in the heart of the Colombia Coffee Zone, under License number S0503917 of the Chamber of Commerce of Pereira.
In 2011, the Association started working on an innovative project of building a large-scale cooperative-based facility to process the coffee, using clean technologies. In addition, in 2013 it established a brand to offer high quality ground coffee in the domestic market, outsourcing the roasting and grinding processes.
In 2016, the Association finished the construction of a zero-pollution plant, as a collaborative effort among government, private industry and the Association, with an initial investment of $430,000 USD. The Communitarian Plant now uses less than 2.0 Liters of water per kg of dry coffee, handles the by-products without spillage, and uses rain water for the coffee processing.
Since the plant was designed when the Association had only 47 members, there is a need to increase the capacity to process the coffee of the current 123 families and continuing supporting the friendly environmental disposal of the wastewater. To ensure the future of the communitarian facility it is important to promote the generational change, bringing special training in coffee and environmental culture in two elementary schools located in the Cuchilla del San Juan mountain range.