We explore one of Medellín’s first specialty shops, which brings coffee straight from farms throughout Colombia.
BY MICHAELA TOMCHEK
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Photos by Michaela Tomchek
Vast mountain landscapes, rich jungles, bustling cities, and a strong presence in the coffee industry—Colombia is a majestic gem, with its microclimates and remarkable cities. Bogotá is chic, sprawling, and magnificent with plenty of food, towering mountains, and history.
Venture to Medellín to see a unique and artistic Colombian city, which hosts renowned artists, rappers, and now a hot clubbing scene. There are also some truly excellent cafés serving coffee when the sun is out and the clubs are closed.
Pergamino and the Echavarria Family
One café stands out as the first of its kind, changing the way coffee was served in this touristy city. Pergamino has a collection of specialty-coffee shops throughout Medellín, including two small cafés at the airport. They know coffee, and it shows when you visit any of their shops.
The Echavarria family began growing coffee nearly 40 years ago in the Antioquia region of Colombia. They began with one farm and soon grew to run four farms and both wet and dry mills. Their work also spread to support smallholder producers in Colombia, assisting them with processing, agronomic advice, and access to international markets. Their organization, Café de Santa Bárbara, works with these producers, and helps market the coffee to roasters worldwide. You may have even sipped on one of their coffees in the U.S.; Onyx Coffee Lab is one of their main clients.
Pedro Echavarria runs the farms and the whole enterprise that is Pergamino now that his father, also Pedro, has retired. His brother Nicolas works with him full-time. Camilo, his other brother, is an artist and also assists with the company. Pedro not only manages the family farms, but also supports over 600 smallholder producers throughout Antioquia, Cauca, and Nariño, and runs the milling operations just outside of central Medellín. He doesn’t do it alone, though; he has a dedicated team that has helped make Pergamino the company it is today.
The Pergamino Cafés
In 2012, Pedro decided to open his own specialty café in the hip neighborhood of El Poblado. This shop is filled with people from all over the world, eager to sip coffee or have brunch on the cool and breezy patio.
Today, his vision has expanded to five Pergamino shops, each filled with delicious coffee hailing from the Echavarria family farm, and the many producers they work with. Each week, Pedro and his team are busy visiting the cafés, spending time at the mill, cupping coffees, or traveling to see producers.
In addition to its coffee, Pergamino’s cafés offer a flavorful food menu ranging from Aussie favorites like avocado toast and smoothie bowls to tasty sandwiches and pastries. My favorite was the café in Laureles, one of the newer spots. It feels as though you’ve walked into an old hotel in the 1950s. The chic décor, wood walls, and delicate lighting all make for a lovely spot to drink coffee. The graphics are delicately displayed throughout the café, which is partially outside, filled with trees, soft mint green chairs, and intricate tilework. An upstairs area where you can sit, read, work, and watch cars pass by rounds out the space.
Continuing the Work
Pergamino has put much care and dedication not only into their coffee and their cafés, but also into the support they provide to producers throughout Colombia. They continue to grow, innovate, and search for new clients throughout the world. And, you can enjoy a final cup or buy one more bag of tasty beans at the José María Córdova International Airport before departing for home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Michaela Tomchek finds coffee an important part of life and the world. She is an appreciator of the crop, the producer, and the many cafés throughout the world serving beautiful beverages. Currently, she writes about coffee, hoping to spread her joy across the globe.