Origins you haven’t heard of: Venezuela

Venezuelan Coffee can be some of the best on the planet but we rarely see it, perhaps the result of the illegal US embargo of the country. Here is an informative report from a charity that sets out to help Venezuelan farmers.

Despite the fact that the country is known world-wide for having the largest crude oil reservoirs, coffee was for a large period of time the first source of income and revenues in the Venezuelan economy. The introduction of coffee in the country is credited to Spanish colonisers particularly Spanish missioners who, around 1730, planted the first cafetos around the Caroní river. By 1740, cafeto plants were planted in Caracas and during the 80’s expansion took place across other states and the first coffee ‘haciendas’ were established.

At the beginning of the XIX century, more adventurous farmers started experimenting more with coffee and by 1810 around 6.5 million pounds (2.9 million Kgs) were being exported from Caracas. This ‘coffee boom’ occurred thanks to the attributes the cafeto plant had including the production of a marketable crop within 3 years and the high density of coffee plantation which was almost 4 times bigger than cocoa, for farmers this resulted in a much more attractive business than the dominant cocoa plant. Coffee established itself as the main export crop putting cocoa on the second place.

For the first time in history, Venezuelan coffee was renowned in international markets and during the first 13 years of the XX century it was ranked in the top 10 coffee producers worldwide occupying the 5th place.

Even though the oil culture was the country’s main source of income from the XX century onwards, in 1919 coffee and cocoa still represented 75% of Venezuela’s exports and the US was the main market. Nationwide, Venezuela had covered around 240.000 coffee hectares with German pioneers establishing trading houses exclusively for coffee exports. These include: Blohm, Breuer, Van Dissel, H Bronhrst and Schon-Willson.

The coffee culture in Venezuela has always prevailed and although production nowadays is below 1% worldwide and mostly consumed by Venezuelans, this coffee is starting to be repositioned in foreign markets slowly due to a renaissance in production, particularly ‘specialty’ or ‘gourmet’ coffee, as a result of the oil crisis which is impacting Venezuela’s economy. Venezuelan entrepreneurs and coffee experts are starting to reconsider the benefits and goodness Venezuelan coffee has got to offer, especially for its distinctive qualities: growing in high altitudes results in higher quality beans, giving this coffee a sweet and slightly rich flavour with a balanced acidity. Types vary and are classified following the finest coffees under the name of Maracaibo Coffees (Maracaibo is the area of Venezuela where the main shipping coffee port is located):

The distinctive flavours of Venezuelan coffee are unique and when proper farming practices are applied, we can obtain a signature coffee which can gain international recognition as it did in the past. At Giveafew we are campaigning to help coffee growers improve their situation in order to achieve premium quality coffee through sustainable practices. Together with the little help you can give by donating or spreading our message we will make a positive impact on the resurgence of Venezuelan coffee!