Nariño has grown—and sold—plenty of coffee over the last hundred years. But not to us.
In fact, we only started visiting there in 2015—and we got there just in time. Lucas Melo had something special for us to taste.
There’s a lot that is special about Lucas Melo's operation. The on-site waterfall of fresh spring water. The intensity of the whole washing and drying part of his operation. The fact that he farms about fifty acres in an area where most people only work a couple hectares. Pretty much everything about this place... is special.
Let’s start with the waterfall. The Galeras volcano is about the only thing higher than this extremely high-elevation farm, and it provides the water that keeps Melo’s farm green, lush, and Edenic. That same water fills Melo’s fermentation tanks, which Melo won’t let anyone else touch. We’d say that he likes to do his own dirty work, but his processing is actually incredibly clean.
Melo can’t do everything himself. He hires three- or four-dozen people to help with the harvest at rates near double typical Colombian picking prices, and includes their bus fare in the deal. It’s a semi-annual boon to the local indigenous economy.
He’s been doing things his own way on this mountain for two decades, ever since his then-spouse gave him an it’s-me-or-the-coffee ultimatum. He chose coffee. So even if he and his farm seem highly unusual… we’re not going to argue with Lucas Melo. It’s time for something special to come out of Nariño.