Licoma lies in the Inquisivi Province in Bolivia, located between the capital city La Paz and the large city of Cochabamba. Raymundo is a coffee farmer who has a farm in Licoma. According to Juan, Raymundo lost his means to sell his coffee last year in 2020 because of COVID-19. After much worry, he came to Juan to ask if he knew someone to sell his coffee to. Juan said, “I’ll keep it for you until we find a buyer” and stored Raymundo’s coffee for him. Two days later, TYPICA visited Juan’s dry mill and we were fortunate enough to experience his coffee. Incidentally, Rodolfo of Agua Rica, a neighboring producer, heard that Raymundo had left his coffee with Juan. Rodolfo then pulled out the coffee he had submitted to the Presidential Coffee Cup Tournament (an international competition that replaces Bolivia’s COE) and stored it with Juan as well because he thought it could sell faster that way.
We visited Raymundo’s farm to talk to him and his wife.
“I am 38 years old this year, and I got married to my wife 16 years ago. Before we started farming, we worked as migrant workers in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was a job making clothes. We bought this land with the money we earned in Argentina and started the farm six years ago. My father was also a coffee farmer, so I learned how to grow coffee from him. We use 80% of the farm to grow coffee, and the other 20% to grow vegetables such as peas. Coffee sells for a better price than other crops, so the income from coffee supports the family.”
His wife said the following about the farm: “We are blessed with high altitude and moderate rainfall, which is ideal for growing coffee. We always check the quality of the finished coffee and make small improvements every year. Unlike other crops, coffee cannot be harvested for three years after the seedlings are planted. Those three years are a big investment for us. Even if we can’t harvest yet, we still must take care of the trees carefully. That’s why the joy of the first harvest was so great. And it is also a joy like no other to have visitors from overseas like today, which we wouldn’t have with other crops.
Previously, we exported our coffee abroad for the first time. We were delighted to hear that Japanese roasters hold our coffee in high regard. We never dreamed that our coffee would reach Japan. It is something we should be proud of. We will be able to take more pride in our coffee business.”
Nothing makes us happier than seeing the distribution of coffee improve coffee growers financially and deepen the meaning of their work. Once again, we realized coffee has the power to change people’s lives.
Originally written in Japanese by Ayane Yamada