The Journey of Café Yuluka Blend
~via Carmenza Montague
Café Yuluka is an organic, fairly-traded, shade-grown, indigenous coffee produced in Colombia.
A delightful aroma and exotic flavor with a strong body and medium acidity are recognizable characteristics. But there is something more to this coffee: a story of a place of beauty, and an astonishing people.
Café Yuluka is grown by the Arhuaco indigenous community on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal mountain range in the world. A UNESCO biosphere reserve independent of the Andes, the Sierra rises to almost 19,000 feet above sea level at a distance of only 26 miles from the Caribbean coast. The mountain’s isolation has allowed for many plant and animal species found nowhere else on earth. An amazing 628 bird species have been recorded in the Sierra Nevada—about the number that can be found in the United States and Canada combined—and 1.5 million people depend upon the fresh water supply that drains down from its 35 river basins.
The Arhuaco are descendants of the once great Tayrona civilization. They call themselves the Elder Brother. According to their beliefs, the Sierra Nevada is the Heart of the World and the health of the entire planet depends upon its well-being. Their Mamos—priests—bear the responsibility of keeping the balance of the universe, as dictated by the Law of Mother. We, the Younger Brother, by cutting forests, building dams, preventing them from accessing their spiritual sites and making their payments to Mother Nature, are disturbing the balance of the planet and their sacred land.
For decades, the Arhuaco have suffered from different sorts of invasions by the Younger Brother: cultivation of ilicit crops by drug traffickers placed them at the center of the conflict between leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups. This, coupled with development projects and timber extraction, has resulted in a loss of almost 85 percent of their ancestral territory.
Yuluka is the indigenous word for balance. Fair Share, LLC, importer of Café Yuluka, shares the Arhuaco’s concern for the environment and values their traditions. Ten percent of the proceeds from the sales of Café Yuluka are donated annually to Confederación Indígena Tayrona, a political and administrative organization of the Arhuaco, for the acquisition of their ancestral lands.
Learn more at www.cafeyuluka.com.
Carmenza Montague is a native of Colombia, South America. Since late 2005, Carmenza and her busband, Sean, have been importing Café Yuluka from Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in an effort to aid the descendants of the Tayrona indigenous community recover and preserve their ancestral lands, a territory of astonishing biodiversity and ancient cultural traditions.