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Subscription Spotlight No. 3: Bernardo Chaves

Similar to our last subscription spotlight, our latest Roaster’s Choice and Single Origin sneak peek also comes from the steep hills along the Andes Mountains— even coming from the same family! We’re excited to share with you: Colombia Bernardo Chaves.

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[Bernado along the hillsides of his Palo Seco]

Over the last three years, we’ve developed a relationship with Nelson Chaves, a producer Xavier (our co-owner and green buyer) describes as a “quiet and humble spirit.” On Metric’s most recent trip to Colombia, this rapport led to not only another year of delicious coffee from Nelson but also a new partnership with his father, Bernardo.

After working with the son in this talented coffee-producing tandem, Xavier knew Metric needed to form a relationship with Bernardo as well. X persistently requested samples throughout 2017 and 2018; however, Bernardo was difficult to contact. He had an ongoing contract to deliver a specific yield to a commodity coffee buyer, so he lacked the crop and time to correspond with us. Bernardo became this mythic figure in our minds. “Up until this year, [he] was like the Wizard of Oz— I knew he existed but never saw him or knew anything about him other than his name,” X articulated.

[The fantastical, steep terrain that makes up Nelson and Bernardo's land]

Last November, a human gave our expectations life. With Nelson’s help and with an earlier, abundant harvest, Xavier managed to visit Bernardo in person at his farm, Palo Seco. “I believe, had we not been persistent” we wouldn’t have been able to “pin Bernardo for a face-to-face.” Although difficult to track down, once there, Bernardo welcomed Xavier with warmth. He invited Xavier to his farm and into his home (the very home our friend and liaison Nelson was born). A stout, strong man who “smiles with his eyes,” Bernardo may be seventy plus years old, but whether playing with his white, poodle-type farm dog, Nino or developing his coffee practice to keep up with his son, he exercises an infectious energy. Sowed into a life of farm work, this energy pays dividends: Xavier was blown away by his crop of castillo and caturra.

[Nelson playing with Nino]

Trying to secure a portion of the crop, Bernado was at first skeptical of the prices Xavier offered. You see, Bernardo had almost exclusively sold to one specific commodity buyer on a contract basis and at market price, a wage that is “low and unsustainable” long-term for most family-sized producers like the Chaveses. Bernardo’s logic derived from valuing a “committed buyer, no matter the price.” Even though his coffee scored far above commodity grade, Bernardo was settling for the guaranteed consistency of what he knew. Xavier understood that to gain his trust “Bernardo had to see how well Nelson was doing” before accepting our earnest offer for his beautiful coffee.

[Nelson, Nino, and Bernado Chaves]

Xavier poignantly tied a bow to recounting Bernado and his first of what will be hopefully many trips to Palo Seco: “Our intention is to be fair every step of the way, which isn't a new concept or something re-invented by us (or anyone for that fact), but it’s a chance to be mutually good to one another with the result being good coffee for all.”

Whether you’re a subscriber getting a sneak peek or you awaited the coffees official launch, we’re excited to share this good coffee and story with you. Here’s to family, sustainable trade, and radiant coffee!