Tragedy Strikes Finca Santa Maria in Colombia—But You Can Help

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Jeff Taylor, who co-owns PT’s Coffee Co. in Kansas, was on a buying trip to Colombia last week with his wife, Maritza, when tragedy struck. As Jeff writes eloquently on PT’s blog, “Our Thursday flight from Cali to Pasto, Colombia was canceled due to weather. We were scheduled to meet with one of our producers, Armando Benavides of Finca Santa Maria, on Friday, and that is where everything took a very dark and life changing turn. Because of the flight delay, we didn’t make our appointment and Armando was not at the farm on Friday evening either. He actually lives in Buesaco, a town close to the farm; and that is the positive news.

“Bandits raided his farm Friday night near Buesaco, Nariño, taking everything in sight, even if it was bolted down,” Jeff continues. “The farm manager later reported that two masked men with guns came to the farm on Friday night around 8 p.m. They tied him up and put him in the back of the car they were driving. His family was locked in one of the homes on the property, along with the dogs. Then, more bandits joined the first two and they robbed Armando and his family of everything on the farm. They took his beds, his furniture, his motors to run the coffee processing equipment, and even the coffee that was drying on the patio or in bags in the warehouse. They took everything they could find for the next 5+ hours.”

Jeff goes on to write that the family is OK, no one was injured—this is a relief to hear. But recovering from such an act of violence won’t be easy, emotionally or financially.

The Benavides family, with Jeff and Maritza Taylor. (Photo from ptscoffee.com)

The Benavides family, with Jeff and Maritza Taylor. (Photo from ptscoffee.com)

Jeff and PT’s have set up a donation site to raise funds for Armando and his family, and I urge you to donate and help this farmer rebuild his life for the sake of his family, and for his coffee.

Here’s the information about donating.

As Jeff writes, today’s Colombia is a lot different—much, much more safe—than the Colombia of the past. Still, bad things happen to good people sometimes, whether in Colombia or the United States or elsewhere. So let’s help raise some money for Armando and his family.

To learn more about the family and  Finca Santa Maria, here’s a video by PT’s from 2012.

Finca Santa Maria 2013 from PT’s Coffee Roasting Co. on Vimeo.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.