“We have all the resources we need in our backyard.” This is how Francisco Londoño expresses himself about the coffee plant he has grown in his home. The latter is part of a species that produces approximately 500 million stems a year in Colombia, most of which, unfortunately, end up being thrown away and burned. His family belongs to a tradition of coffee harvesters that has been around for more than a century. Alongside his role in the coffee business, he worked for several years making doors, closets, and kitchens. One day more than 15 years ago, however, he noticed the vast amount of wood that was being discarded during his farm’s Caturro and Castillo coffee harvests. He started wondering how to make use of such an opportunity and took it to his workshop. From that moment on, he has been on a personal crusade to raise awareness among the coffee and timber industries about this incredible raw material. One of its main advantages is that does not have the environmental sustainability and conservation issues others do. He acknowledges this type of wood is not easy to handle: it is extremely dense, cracks easily, and can produce sparks when it is dry. In addition, to obtain a 60-centimeter-wide piece and be able to make a veneer, you need about 20 small pieces of coffee wood. Nevertheless, he believes working with this material is worth the effort. This is so because when you polish it, for instance, you get the most beautiful purples, blacks, yellows, and reds between its grains. Moreover, you can tell that each knot came from the branch of a coffee plant. Francisco and Mauricio, his son, won the Bienal de Diseño de Artesanías de Colombia (Colombia Crafts Design Biennial) in 2014. This has allowed them to decorate many coffee shops, restaurants, and hotels with their wares ever since. Fernando’s life can now be summed up in three activities: walking around his farm, continuing to discover coffee wood’s benefits in his workshop, and offering barista demonstrations and coffee tastings to his visitors so they can appreciate the sweet notes of his favorite coffee, the Caturro Amarillo Santarrosano.
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