Indigenous Organic vs. Certified Organic



One of the beautiful parts of working with the indigenous of Colombia is learning about their cultural traditions that go back thousands of years before the Conquistadors ever set foot in their lands.


The Kogi are called the Protectors of the Earth, not because they are warlike, but because they are masters of working with Mother Nature. The Kogi are well known in the region to be able to take previously toxin soaked barren land and in just a few years turn it back into lush green land filled with animals and life. This is because the Kogi’s cultivation methods follow the wisdom of their spiritual elders, who are called 'Mamos'. 


The Mamos are the elder men of the tribes that serve as priests, judges, and wise counsel to their people. Each Mamo is in charge of a small town called a Pueblo (Spanish word). The Mamos tell the people where to plant their coffee, they bless the coffee in sacred Kogi religious tradition, how to raise their crops and are the authorities in all things. To become a Mamo a Kogi man must spend years training and more years deep in the mountains with the more ancient Mamos who isolate themselves from all civilization and human contact.


Kogi Coffee is grown in Kogi farms that follows the Mamos' guidance. Which is not done in the traditional farming sense, but in the way of the Kogi by growing in nature without cutting down other plants and instead right alongside other sacred plants like the Ayu (coca). This makes their crops not only organic, it is as organic as possible. The Kogi farms are located deep in the Colombian mountains near the border with Venezuela many hours, if not days, away from paved roads and civilization . It is impossible to be any more organic. 


Years ago, we asked one of the Mamos why the Kogi refuse to get their crops Certified Organic, because the Kogi do refuse to certify their farms organic, but there is also a technical reason, not just a cultural reason. His response was simple and made perfect sense.


Cultural Reason - This was the reason that one of the Kogi Elders, a Mamo, told us why they don’t go through the Organic Certification process.


Mamo, "We have been growing in our ways for all of time. Our methods use no chemicals and we grow in harmony with the earth. Why do outsiders show up and tell us that we need to be "certified organic"? Outsiders have no right to come here and tell us we need to grow our crops the way you tell us and get our coffee "certified organic". We, the Kogi, should be certifying if YOU grow organic. You are the ones destroying the earth, not us. We, the Elder Brothers, are the ones protecting the earth. Do not tell us we need some piece of paper to tell the world our methods of growing are approved by you."  And that was the end of that conversation. 


Technical Reason - The Kogi are sincerely one of the last cultures on earth that live in their ancient ways, but they are also very poor and are not versed in our ways of doing business. They live in their traditional ways, follow their cultural traditions, live far from cities and have hidden themselves from the outside world. Very few Kogi even know how to read or write, only 20% of them even speak Spanish and near 0% speak English. The Kogi do not celebrate birthdays or even know what day of the year they were born. Why should they? The calendar is a Western invention.


Their small villages and farms do not have Western traditional property titles or any way to "prove" that they even own the land. Oftentimes the Kogi are driven off of their lands by paramilitaries, narcos or large corporate farms simply because they have no way of proving it is their land, even if their family has been on that same farm for centuries.


So how exactly are a people with very little resources, far from civilization, on indigenous lands and small family farms, going to go through the process to get their farm Certified Organic?


Please do not think we are trying to say that our coffee is certified organic and we need to be clear, The Younger Brothers coffee is NOT CERTIFIED ORGANIC. 


Yet, it is organic. More organic than any coffee on earth. To properly represent how organic our coffee is, we came up with a phrase to properly represent The Younger Brothers coffee,  WILD ORGANIC or INDIGENOUS ORGANIC, but we DO NOT represent that we are CERTIFIED ORGANIC.


However, for those that  love organic coffee, we can absolutely say 100%, The Younger Brothers Coffee is as ORGANIC as naturally possible. It is grown in the wild, blessed by the Mamos and harvested in the tradition of their people. 


Thank you for taking the time to read this explanation of our use of the word ORGANIC.