Born and raised in a small town in Colombia, there are experiences and reminders of home that I can never forget. One of the memories that is dearest to my heart, is the recollection of my visits with my dear neighbor, Blanca Lidia.
I’ll never forget her kind face and nurturing words. As young as I was (I couldn’t have been older than 4 or 5), I would wander out of my house and into my neighbor’s kitchen. As soon as I arrived, she would pull up a small chair that she had especially for me and serve me my favorite cafe con leche. These are where my memories and love of coffee first begin.
Coffee has been part of my life and culture since I can remember. I am from the state of Nariño, which is known in the coffee industry as having one of the best coffees in the world. What makes our coffee especially unique is the altitude in which it grows. The farms are located in the heart of the mountains which supply the coffee trees with the perfect amount of shade and rainfall. This provides the coffee with its unique balance between acidity and sweetness.
Having the opportunity to grow up drinking such excellent coffee, my standards were high, and I began exploring the coffees from the different regions around Colombia. My love for coffee began as a hobby.
When I came to the United States for college, I met my business partner, Cameron Braun. We had most of our classes together, and we became close friends. Nearly everyday after class, we would go to a local coffee shop next to campus. Initially, our conversations were casual, but then Cameron started asking me questions about my culture. Naturally, conversation about my culture led to a discussion about coffee, and the idea for our business sprouted from these lengthy conversations.
When I traveled home to Colombia during the winter and summer breaks, I began visiting coffee farms and taking courses in coffee tasting. At this time my love for coffee became my passion. I was fascinated by the lives of the farmers, the uniqueness of each coffee’s profile, and how coffee is such an integral part of so many people’s lives, not just in my culture, but across the world.
I realized that this is what I wanted to do with my life.
I would often spend days on the coffee farms, learning the process of growing coffee, but more importantly, getting to know the farmers and their families. Being able to get to know these farmers on a personal level allowed the farmers and I to build loyalty, trust, and respect for one another. Our relationships stem from a mutual understanding, which is very uncommon in our industry.
Our farmers are not just another lot number, they’re our friends and business partners. After my countless visits to the families, I was sad to leave them behind and come back to the United States. However, upon my return, Cameron and I spent countless hours talking about all that I had learned from my experiences.
What we began to realize as we started exploring coffee in the United States, was that there seemed to be a few flaws in the current coffee industry. While many of the coffee companies sell good coffee, they’re often overloaded with up to 40 or 50 different types of coffee, which can be confusing and intimidating for the average person. We also concluded that many of these companies only feature certain coffees for a limited period of time. What happens to the person that falls in love with a coffee from Panama, and then two months later goes to look for it and it is no longer available?
The creation of our company, Abstract, strives to eliminate these problems. Our company purchases our coffee directly from the farmers. This ensures not only the quality of our coffee, but it also guarantees that your favorite coffee will be available when you want it. Our website features select coffees from Colombia that, we think, are appealing to every coffee drinker, ranging from the novice to the expert. Ultimately, our goal as a company is to bring the very best coffees to our customers without all the fuss of trying to decide which one to buy. Lets face it, “life is complicated, coffee shouldn’t be.”
— Diego Arteaga, Co-founder, Abstract Coffee