Spotlight On: Pergamino

Published 6 Feb 2024

Last November, we had the pleasure of hosting our longtime Colombian supply partners and good friends Pedro and Léo of Pergamino. During their tour of Australia, the duo gave a handful of fun, informative presentations detailing the history and operations of the family-owned company and diving deep into the science of coffee fermentation. This week, we’re excited to spotlight the pair’s work and the enormous amount of knowledge and insight into the Colombian coffee industry they shared with us during their visit.

Pergamino is a constant source of inspiration for us at MCM, and we are proud to call them partners. The company was established four decades ago with the founding of Santa Barbara Estate, in the hills of Colombia’s Antioquia state, by Pedro Echavarría Sr. What started as a passion project and future retirement plan, has since blossomed into an extensive operation, including coffee farms, an export business representing small holder producers, a dry mill, a roastery and several cafes in the busy city of Medellín. 

Today, the company is led by Pedro Echavarria Jr. and Leonardo Henao Triana, a passionate, innovative and hard-working duo, who have exhaustive local and international knowledge of coffee production and trade. It’s a moving experience to hear Pedro talk about the long road the family have taken to get to where they are today, with honest and realistic insights into the challenges many producers (both large and small) regularly face when trying to sell their crop.

Listen to Pedro here:

In Pergamino’s view, recognising and de-anonymising the hard work of coffee producers isn’t only the right thing to do, but is the only way to ensure the continuation of the industry for years to come. Growing coffee may be part of many rural Colombians’ heritage, but a lack of profitability is holding it back from being its future. As Pergamino’s operations expanded and they began milling and exporting their coffee directly, they were motivated to export lots from other quality-focused producers, paving the way to their Allied Producer Program. The initiative has been incredibly successful, with Pergamino now sourcing in several regions from hundreds of smallholder producers, who can make a stable, reliable income from their crop and whose names are known around the world thanks to the company’s commitment to full transparency and traceability.

Much of the Allied Producer Program’s success rests on the shoulders of Léo’s expertise as both a coffee trader and a specialist in fermentation science. Whilst Léo has not come from a coffee-growing family, he’s just as passionate as Pedro about highlighting the importance of all the work done at a farm level. Before joining Pergamino, Léo cut his teeth as part of the QC and procurement program of a local exporting company. By talking to Cup of Excellence-winning farmers, he learned that the secret to their success was not only in the growing and picking of the coffee cherries, but also in the controlled fermentation that occurred as their lots were being processed.

Listen to Léo here:

Whenever he talks about fermentation, Léo’s passion for demystifying and simplifying the process is evident. To him, fermentation is a tool that producers can use to elevate the quality of their coffee and, as such, should come at a minimal cost to them. Filled with hot takes and laughs, Léo’s portion of the talk breaks down at a scientific level what actually happens when coffee cherries ferment, and how keeping the process simple and accessible to farmers can go a long way in producing exceptional quality lots and improving income. 

We learned so much from Pedro and Léo’s enriching talks. If you missed the events, or simply want to revisit the content, grab yourself a cup of your favourite Colombian coffee and hit the audio files above for a listen!