New Documentary Shares Stories from Colombian Coffee Farmers

The 49-minute Berlin Meets Colombia – A Coffee Travel Story aims to capture the experience of spending time on a coffee farm.

BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE

Photos courtesy of CafCaf

For Matthias Stäheli, discovering specialty coffee resulted in an instant passion. A freelance web designer based in Berlin, Matthias became enamored with making espresso at home and pouring beautiful latte art. However, it wasn’t until he traveled to Colombia in 2009 that he fully fell in love with coffee. “When I visited Colombia for the first time and saw its amazing natural beauty, I finally reached the source of the whole circle: the coffee farmers,” Matthias says.

Matthias Stäheli, pictured above, had always been intrigued by coffee, but a trip to Colombia in 2009 made him even more passionate about the product.

That passion has now culminated in an artfully produced 49-minute documentary titled Berlin Meets Colombia – A Coffee Travel Story. Made by Matthias and videographer Maik Reichert, the movie aims to capture the experience of traveling through Colombia to learn about coffee. “Our main idea of filming a documentary was to transport a travel feeling through Colombia,” says Matthias, “to show how the daily routine really looks on the farms, and how much work it takes to produce good coffee.”

The intention of the film is to showcase the daily lives of farmers in Colombia, plainly and without adornment.

Matthias has been telling stories about coffee and coffee farmers since 2017 at his website CafCaf, which he created to channel his enthusiasm and passion for specialty coffee. Berlin Meets Colombia – A Coffee Travel Story came about when Matthias made his fourth trip to Colombia—also in 2017—to help his friend harvest coffee at his small farm. “I did not visit them as a foreigner who tries to invest some money or start a business in Colombia, or who wants to buy green coffee,” he says. “Rather I came as a backpacker who listened to the farmers, who wanted to learn more about the coffee plants, and who wrote it down in his blog. These amicable relations were just perfect to show the real life on the farms, so I decided to travel back four months later to make the documentary.”

Unlike a buyer or an investor, Matthias was in Colombia just as a documentarian. He was able to focus on storytelling, listening to farmers and capturing their realities.

Returning to Colombia to make the movie, Matthias and Maik spent three weeks traveling through the coffee-growing areas of Pereira, in the Risaralda department, and Armenia, in the Quindío department. In true documentarian fashion, they tried to simply show life how it is for the area’s coffee farmers. “We wanted to talk to farmers and hear their perspective,” Matthias says. “We wanted to see which problems they face today, which opportunities they experience when trying to produce high-quality coffee, and what they might have to change in order to survive,” he says.

The style of the movie is straightforward and direct—there are minutes without any dialogue and scenes of farmers simply living their lives.

Their passive style is evident in the film: Scenes unfold slowly, often without dialogue, as life takes place at the farms. Matthias says this approach allowed them to observe and connect with many farmers. “On our travel we met so many different characters who connect one thing: hospitality and happiness,” he says. “Although life in Colombia is not easy—especially if you own a small farm in the countryside—these guys try to get the best out of it.”

Matthias adds that one of the most memorable friendships they made is with Luz María Giraldo Vélez, who runs Finca Besarabia in Quindío. “It’s a family farm run by women, and Luz María is an inspiring leader,” Matthias says. “We met her by chance while traveling through the region, but her story is one of my favorite in the movie.”

Check out Berlin Meets Colombia – A Coffee Travel Story in its entirety here.

About Chris Ryan 252 Articles
Chris Ryan (he/him) is Barista Magazine's online copy editor and a freelance writer and editor with a background in the specialty coffee industry. He has been content director of Sustainable Harvest and the editor of Fresh Cup Magazine.

1 Comment

  1. Loved the documentary. As a Colombian who makes a living off of coffee, I think you guys represented well the story of most Colombian coffee farmers.

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