Rubén Higuita is a young coffee farmer and an entrepreneur. He is very focused on quality and sustainability-focused coffee. The average age of coffee farmers is in the late 50’s and rapidly rising, while life expectancy is in the early 60’s. Today, very few young people choose a life of farming, rather electing to move to cities in search of more profitable vocations. Rubén is one of the few that sees coffee farming is not inherently unstable and poverty-inducing. He sees his small farm as a business and knows what you put in is what you get out. He also realizes commonly employed agricultural practices are unsustainable, and therefore a doomed business model. If he wishes for his farm to keep producing the high-quality cup it does currently, he knows he must preserve the soil, biodiversity, and native flora and fauna, even if it means sacrificing some yield today.
Peque is not in a region known internationally for coffee, though it is the principal vocation of the area. It is in an area historically occupied by insurgent groups and characterized by a high level of political and criminal violence. For decades this has caused a low quality of life due to lack of economic options.
Coffee farmers in this area of the country have very little access to the specialty coffee market, forced to sell at base commodity price regardless of cup quality. Earning a premium for coffees, like Rubén does, incentivises the planting of coffee rather than less labor-intensive land uses. This then generates employment, an essential component of the recovery from the 60-year civil war and the reintegration of former guerrillas, insurgents, and those affiliated with organized crime.