Our Story

22 | 04 | 2021
Our Story

An in Depth Look at the History of the Colombian Coffee Connection

By: Valentina Duarte & Nina Miller

From a coffee farming family to an international trader, Ervin Liz is the owner and co-founder of the Colombian Coffee Connection “CCC”. From his humble beginnings, helping out his parents collect coffee, cleaning the crops, and helping with everything on their farm, his passion and perseverance led him to eventually co-founding a company that now exports coffee to the US and Canada primarily. Ervin Liz comes from a very hardworking family from the Nasa indigenous community. When he was growing up he lived in a remote area that had little access to electricity, roads, and other facilities that would have been available in the city. He grew up with moral values of respect and perseverance and has very fond memories of his childhood. 

At the age of 16, he moved to Norway to attend the United World College where he graduated with an IB and got a scholarship to study in the US. He studied at Luther College where he met Jon Backlund and began their discussion on entrepreneurship and eventually partnership. They came up with the idea of the Colombian Coffee Connection. Liz’s original idea was to sell the coffee in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, but they decided to dream bigger. They were set on exporting Colombian coffee to the US directly from the coffee farmers in his indigenous community, paying them more than the market price, avoiding 3rd parties, and providing excellent quality for his customers. Once he realized that he can do nothing he puts his mind to, even without the economical resources, he understood that hard work and determination will get you where you want to be.

Colombian coffee started in the United States with a partner from the country. The initial idea was to commercialize the coffee produced at home by his family, but through time the idea developed to start commercializing the coffee of other growers. Through this little idea, Colombian coffee was created. Currently, the company is located in Bogota, Colombia and it is run and managed by Ervin. CCC is made up of several expert coffee growers as well as Ervin's family who have been a great help in this process. His family is in charge of processing and storing the coffee on the farm from there Ervin takes care of the roasting and distribution process.

There are various processes that make the coffee produced for CCC unique. Their farms are located in Cauca and the crops are at 1900m above sea level in volcanic land, this means the coffee will ripen later compared to warmer areas and it will contain more sugars and other flavor-enhancing compounds. This also allows the coffee to be of greater quality like higher density and better acidity in the cup. Different varieties are separated by micro-lots which each have benefits in distinctive ways. Right now they are experimenting with various types of fermentation such as extended anaerobic fermentation and soon CCC will start with fermentation-based on external yeasts. Everyone who takes part in the cultivation of coffee is part of the Nasa indigenous community. Each family has their own land to plant and cultivate their coffee plants and what CCC does is buy the harvest from each family that has a quality product. The harvesting and cultivation done at the farm are then sent as raw material to Bogotá to be processed.

The coffee that the company sells is roasted and sold in different presentations, they have a variety such as; ground coffee and whole beans. They also differentiate the coffee from each family by labeling the bags with the farmers’ names. Abroad they sell green as well as roasted coffee. Ervin explains that to create the perfect cup of coffee; it is essential to have a high-quality raw material but also to have the correct techniques and really good water.

Colombian Coffee Connection stands out from other coffee companies because the coffee is grown and brought directly from the farm to the consumers. Compared to other companies, this does not happen often because they buy coffee from different parts as most are not producers but coops that buy coffee from thousands of farmers. These companies often do not differentiate between high and low-end coffees which might turn into a lower quality final offering. On the other hand, when buying coffees Colombian Coffee Connection pays farmers the market prices plus an initial 12% which can increase depending on the quality of the product. 

Ervin Liz has come a long way from his humble beginnings to now exposing consumers to the incredible work of the Nasa indigenous community. With his hard work and big dreams, he has been able to accomplish plenty of achievements with the Colombian Coffee Connection and will continue to do so.