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Night Swim Coffee

Illimani Lot #10

Regular price
$21.00 USD
Regular price
Sale price
$21.00 USD

 COMMUNITY: Illimani

LOCATION: Illimani, Caranavi, Bolivia


VARIETY: Catuai and Typica


We Taste: Apple, Raisin, Molasses, Cocoa

Illimani is a community of approximately 65 families in the province of Caranavi, the largest coffee producing region in Bolivia. Caranavi became known for coffee production in the 1960’s, following Bolivia’s agricultural reform, and coffee exporting peaked in the 1990’s with heavy investment and interest from the private sector. Throughout the 90’s, coffee production was focused on volume over quality.

In the early aughts, significant investments were made by international development agencies, including the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to focus on the production of quality coffee as an alternative to coca production. Funds were directed toward coffee infrastructure such as processing plants, producers received training on Good Agricultural Practices, and coffee production became much more technified and developed. Most of these agencies are no longer operating in Caranavi, although the German development agency GIZ and some Northern European non-profit agencies and foundations continue to work with coffee producers.

More recently, the Municipality of Caranavi and Bolivia’s central government have invested to incentivize coffee production through coffee quality competitions, and the Ministry of Rural Development also had a seedling program, referred to as “El Programa,” which sold coffee seedlings at heavily subsidized rates to encourage coffee production.

Over the past 15 years, coffee has become a big part of Caranavi's identity and culture. The main structure in the town square reads “Province of Caranavi: Bolivian Coffee Capital,” and there are coffee shops everywhere. There are also frequent coffee events and competitions. People are proud of being coffee farmers and they are very competitive about who has the best coffee. A new, younger generation is getting involved, and the outlook for Bolivian coffee production is promising. Some older producers have handed their farms over to the next generation, and many producers are in their 30’s and early 40s.

Farm sizes vary, but on average producers have 2 - 3 hectares. For some producers, coffee is their primary source of income, but most have a little bit of everything, including fruit and coca. Coca is the most profitable crop, but, due to government regulations, farmers are limited to a quarter hectare (known as a “cato”), per lot. 

During coffee harvest season, Caranavi is bustling around the clock. In Illimani, as in most of Caranavi, coffee producers sell their coffee in cherry. Toyota Ipsums, heavily modified and reinforced to carry a heavy load, are the vehicle of choice for transporting coffee cherry from the mountains to the collection stations in Illimani or Caranavi. Producers can hire an Ipsum taxi, and larger producers may have a pick-up truck or will hire a larger truck. 

Much of the coffee is shade grown, though in recent years trainings through the municipality have promoted agricultural practices focused on increasing productivity, often-times promoting a reduction in shade trees. Producers are well-versed in traditional coffee farming practices, and everyone knows how to produce a good washed coffee. Today, most everyone has a smartphone, giving producers direct access to the latest trends in the industry. There is more experimenting with natural and alternative processing methods as producers can access endless information on the internet.