Nariño: Extreme High Altitude Coffee

Posted by Mitchell Hamilton on

    The Nariño region of Colombia pays homage to Antonio Nariño, a  Colombian ideological precursor of the independence movement in New Granada (present day Colombia) and was one of its early political and military leaders.

     Nariño is situated in southeast Colombia, on the border with Ecuador. The Andes Mountains split Colombia in half, running south to north. This mountain range separates the pacific region where Nariño is located from the Amazon Region to the east. This results in three distinct types of topography: the plains, which border the Pacific Ocean on the west, the Andes in the center and the Amazon Basin to the east.  

      Due to Nariño's location and topography, the local coffee plantations are blessed with a series of particular conditions adequate for coffee growing in terms of water availability, temperature, sunlight, and wind patterns. Since the Nariño region is located so close to the equator, close to 1 degree north, it receives a steady amount of sunlight year round.  The warm humid winds which rise up from the bottom of the canyons and valleys below allow the coffee farmers here to cultivate coffee plants at extreme altitudes of up to  2300 masl (7,500 feet). Many of the farmers here have their coffee planted under nitrogen fixing trees. These trees, which can range from forest trees like cedars, to fruit trees, like banana, orange, lemon, and avocado, are planted to create a nitrogen balance in the soil and promote better soil and decreased erosion. These conditions plus the rich volcanic soils from the 12 volcanos that call Nariño home, combine to make this a place where lively,  sweet coffees are grown. A coffee that has high acidity, medium body, pronounced aroma and a clean sweet flavor and the intrinsic mildness of Colombian coffee.

     Farms in Nariño are the smallest in Colombia, on average less than one hectare( 2.47 Acres) each. Because farmers have such small pieces of land, growers are highly dependent on income from coffee production, and are extremely dedicated to increasing quality and yields.

.     The topography of Nariño allowed the region to be the northern border of the mighty Inca Empire who arose in Peru in the 13th century and was the largest pre-Colombian empire until their defeat in 1572 by the Spanish. The high mountains and deep canyons of the Nariño region allowed the Incan people to defend against northern threats more easily. The residents of Nariño, proud of their culture and past, are famous for being an independent and cultured people.


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