When Minnesotans buy coffee, they should pay attention to three things: the freshness, the roast and the score. Norte Café is a 100% Colombian coffee business ran by Yair “Leo” Carvajalino who comes from a lineage of coffee farmers. Through “dedication, diligence and passion”, Leo and his family have allowed for economic flourishment in the region he grew up in Colombia.
The Norte Café owner visits farmers markets all over the Twin Cities and rural Minnesota. While the United States provides you with 3 oz. to 30 oz. coffee cups, Carvajalino says people in Colombia don’t consume coffee the way Americans do. Despite being one of the largest coffee producer in the world, “in Colombia we have something called ‘Tinto’, which is like a cortado, and that’s it,” Carvajalino says.
According to the World Population Review, in 2019 the United States was the top country to drink the most coffee in the world- by 1000s of 60-lb bags of dry coffee beans consumed.
Norte Café’s audience currently consists of the average Minnesotan who has more access to information and a keen interest in organic products. Yet, Caravajalino wishes to expand to the Latinx communities in Minnesota by educating his community on the importance and benefits of consuming high quality coffee. He’s observed how Latinx individuals don’t consider higher quality coffee a valuable investment as they are accustomed to other options, such as instant coffee or other substitutes.
The coffee business launched during the pandemic. The team saw their coffee as a valuable product to a unique-seeking market that was stuck at home. Caravajalino then left his job and bet on launching the business his parents and grandparents nestled for so long, in the United States.
“There’s two types of coffee: commercial and specialty,” Caravajalino said. “Commercial coffee is the kind you’d find at the store, the normal ones like Starbucks or Folgers. Specialty coffee tends to come from a specific region, the bean is big and clean, it’s been cupped, and it tastes good. Those are specialty coffees.”
However, coffee quality isn’t the only thing Caravajalino is concerned with. He cares about the traceability of his work, too. It’s important to bring transparency to a business’ ethic and sustainability. Showing the buyer that the product you’re consuming comes from a line of paid hard workers, with rights, is essential to its traceability. Norte Café has no middle men. The team is purely involved in the production, transportation, and retail process.
Caravajalino uses his instagram page as his main tool to show his audience the authenticity behind the family business. He wants to show where the coffee beans come from and, eventually, provide tours at Finca Paramitos in Chinchina, Colombia.
Finca Paramitos is situtated at 6,000 feet above sea level in mountainous terrain. The combination of clouds and cooler temperatures in this environment allows the coffee crop to preserve its sugars. As a result, Norte Café brings you an experience of delightful sweetness, fruity notes, spices, acidity, body, and other captivating flavors as you savor their coffee. Caravajalino is always offering farmers market attendees a taste of his delicious cold brew.
That is the beauty of specialty coffee. It is unique and belongs to the environment it was cultivated in. Blends lose that uniqueness and make you question their ethical practices and sustainability. You can tell blends from specialty coffees down to the size of the coffee beans; if they’re all different sizes, it’s a blend.
“I like the idea of creating an impact on the community,” Caravajalino said. The business owner sought out to provide jobs for others on his farm, while also standing with his objective of educating the community. Many coffee drinkers are unfamiliar with the fact that it’s a fruit. Despite it being a fun fact, it’s also important to educate ourselves on the basics of what we’re consuming.