A six-foot tree full of red cherries, shimmering green leaves, and the earthy smell of wet soil. It is an incredible feeling to stand in front of a coffee plant for the first time.
Pulling out a cherry, extracting the two beans covered in mucilage, realizing the slow process that will bring those seeds to become someone’s cup of coffee, who knows where in the world. One is assailed by a vortex of emotions that go from curiosity to embarrassment; how is it possible that we know so little about coffee? As good Italians we are used to drinking it in large quantities, however, we do not have any relation to its origins.
From these small reflections was born our project “Yanayaku – The roots of coffee”.
We decided to discover and narrate the world of coffee in Colombia, one of the lands where this tree is the master, populating the countryside of almost every region. We do this through a documentary, photographs, and writings, which help us put together a colorful and varied puzzle.
We carefully choose the 15 productive experiences to visit during our 5000 km journey in two months. We set out from the south of the country, where we are at home, on the border with Ecuador, to reach the warm Caribbean coast and return via the hinterland. At each stop, the families and organizations we contacted welcomed us, accompanied us, and told us about their daily commitments, both productive and social.
They are families, cooperatives, women’s groups, indigenous communities, and the people whose lives have always revolved around coffee, for whom coffee is work, choice, hope, and a daily driving force.
Thanks to their experiences we are able to understand the importance of talking about this product, linking it to other themes: environmental sustainability, defense of human rights, war, and spirituality. These are the gigantic topics we try to discuss with our interlocutors.
Colombia is the second most biodiverse country in the world, the biodiversity that is declining in different climates, natural habitats, countless species of flora and fauna but also different cultures, traditions, gastronomy, which are difficult to summarize but very interesting to discover and try to put together. In addition, an internal conflict, which has been going on for 60 years, divides and constantly pains the inhabitants of this land, who are tired of living in a climate of violence and tension.
We have the opportunity to visit some of the most difficult areas in this sense, talking with those who make resistance and coffee a peaceful way to show that with nonviolence and legality you can live much better. There are still too few incentives to travel these roads; rural communities are so many times forgotten and abandoned, without a political and social plan that enhances and protects them.
There are many variables that must be considered to produce a good coffee: the quality of the soil, the water used, the place where it is dried, the biodiversity of the plantation, careful harvesting, care in transportation, roasting, and grinding, and the final preparation. We tell every single process with the images we collected during the trip and in the years to follow, deciding to make Colombia home and coffee a mission.
Yanayaku was born as a documentary in 2019 and slowly became a dream, involving Colombian producers and a community of consumers interested in understanding more, who want to taste a healthy and ethical drink and seek a direct relationship with those who produce it. We are proud to have brought across the ocean these special coffees, rich in taste and story.
We live in a time when our food choices coincide with our political choices. Eating consciously means taking care of our planet, taking care of ourselves and all the people who work in the food chain. These are the values that move us and motivate us to work with coffee and for coffee.
Que viva el café!