Yominson Trujillo has worked with coffee since he was 8 years old alongside his mother. While many children in rural Colombia grow up helping their parents on their farm, Yominson began managing his own plot of trees from this early age. He decided to continue working in coffee out of respect for culture and his tradition, and by the age of 17 Yominson had purchased his own plot of land on the neighboring mountain face. The lot we purchased from Yominson comes from his farm, Villa Milet, which he inherited from his mother, Nora Milet. It is here that Yominson picked his first coffee cherries, and he decided to name the farm in honor of his mother.
You can find Villa Milet about 2 hours outside of the village of Tarqui in an area referred to by locals as La Profunda (the depths). Not long ago coffee production in this area was nearly impossible. According to Yominson, the extreme weather conditions harmed coffee trees, leading to consistently low yields each year. If this wasn’t enough, parasites carried by migratory birds would fall onto coffee trees during migration and harm the trees, sometimes killing them. At several points Yominson considered giving up and leaving coffee producing behind. Sadly, this story is not unfamiliar to us. Many coffee farmers have considered, or are actively giving up on coffee because it is so difficult to produce.
Though times were difficult, Yominson persisted and continued cultivating coffee. What’s truly interesting is that now, decades after Yominson first began farming, climate has significantly shifted in Colombia, and the result has been a shift in the viability of coffee growing areas. His farm is now more productive than ever, which is a major blessing considering the existential threat climate change poses for many coffee farmers. At 1900 meters above sea level, which is quite high compared to many farms, the dreaded roya or coffee leaf rust disease which kills entire harvests of coffee is virtually a non issue at Villa Milet. In a matter of decades, this area went from barely cultivatable to extremely fertile. With all the right conditions, Yominson has managed to produce coffees of outstanding quality, and has become recognized as one of the leaders of coffee production in his area.
Because of this, Yominson has managed to sell his coffee into the international specialty coffee market twice, once to a buyer in the US and once to Australia. As mentioned previously, there are countless hurdles for coffee farmers to overcome in order to enter the international market. Though things are not easy even if they do manage to sell their coffee. Because of the remoteness of coffee farms and the lack of infrastructure, many farmers rely on neighbors or seemingly odd connections to move their coffees or to connect them to international buyers. These connections can be unstable at best, and nefarious at worst. Yominson recognized the instability and sought to find a way to sell his coffee. Luckily, Yominson now works with the Monkaaba Project which not only helps him sell his coffee but also helps him gain insight into how his coffee tastes and how he can produce the best tasting coffees consistently from year to year.