Roasters fall into two categories when it comes to Boliva's coffee: those that know, and those that don't know. For those who know, Agricafe is one of the most sought-after producer groups not just in Bolivia, but in all of South America, and buyers line up every year for their one-of-a-kind microlots. For those who don't know, it is often the cup qualities—diverse, fascinating, unexpectedly delicious—that grab their attention for life.
Bolivia is South America's only landlocked coffee producing country and is the smallest exporter of coffee on the continent. The quality of that coffee, however, is hardly lacking in diversity or beauty. Bolivia’s terrain and geography is gifted for arabica production, particularly throughout the Yungas region (Yungas is Aymara for "warm lands"), whose mountain ranges connect the low and humid Amazonian basin to the dry Andean altiplano above. The most productive municipality in the Yungas is by far Caranavi, which still produces an estimated 85-90% of Bolivia's specialty coffee.
Caranavi's landscape is steep, humid, rugged, and remote, with natural forest making up more than 90% of the territory. Historically coffee in this area was challenged by a devastating combination of isolation and national disinvestment. These days, after decades of struggle, coffee farms in Caranavi's high and tropical climate tend to be well-managed and diversified, but small. Coffee growers here still often don’t have processing equipment or transportation of their own, a massive hurdle in such territory, making Agricafe’s investments over the past 10 years an enormous benefit to many.
Agricafe's smallholder farmer program, “Sol de la Mañana”, began in 2013 with only 10 small producers in Colonia Bolinda, a farming community just up the mountain from Caranavi town and the same neighborhood where La Linda was established. Sol de la Mañana functions like a school, using a 10-year curriculum focused on best practices for nursery and farm management, plant nutrition, renovation, specialty harvesting, and biodiversity. This granular attention to detail forced willing smallholders to take charge of their productivity and quality, and to think long-term. When the first commercial harvest was sold in 2017, the success of the program attracted more producers. It currently has 100 contributing farms and production for most has increased from a per-hectare average of 2-4 bags to over 20.