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Medellin is the second largest city in Colombia behind Bogota, located in the state of Antioquia. It has an economy based on agriculture, textiles, energy, and a wave of rapidly growing tourism activities. As you have probably seen on Netflix, thirty years ago Medellin was famously plagued by drug cartels- a cancer that changed the peaceful and beautiful city into one of the most dangerous cities around the world. Today, Medellin is evolving from place troubled by social problems such as FARC, narcos and poverty into an innovation cluster of opportunities that appeal to local and international business alike.
Medellin was the founding place of the modern coffee industry of Colombia and is the home of specialty coffee bean suppliers, Those Coffee People. In the early 1900’s, a team of elite businessmen came together in Medellin to establish the National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia (FNC or Federación Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia). From the FNC, an icon was born that would soon be known across all four corners of the globe- Juan Valdez. This “campesino” character of Juan Valdez aimed to personify the culture and traditions of Colombian coffee growers was probably one of the planet’s most successful marketing strategies in the 60´s. Juan Valdez was responsible for teaching the world about the coffee of Colombia!
Unfortunately, during Colombia’s time of social and political unrest the coffee industry took a large hit. Farmers’ profits were shrinking to a point where they couldn’t even pay their expenses so many farmers decided to exit the coffee industry. For a moment, Colombia saw the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of its people dwindle as the coffee industry experienced a slow down.
When the city started waking up from the nightmare of the drug cartel occupation, the world started to once again show interest in Medellin. People who took the initial risk to visit the newly safe Medellin, and created strong word of mouth advertising about the experience that they had with this hard working culture that was trying to clean up their name and reputation. Shortly after, the floodgates opened and the whole world started to recognize Medellin as a great touristic city. Travelers started discovering countless reasons to love Medellin including the warm and hospitable local culture, and the city’s strong position is developing music, sports, food, unique lifestyle and rapid urban innovation. These factors showed Medellin not only as a travel destination, but also a place to develop ideas and culture.
With all these events and developments, the city began to see a change it it’s coffee culture where for the first time, traditional practices were starting to change and leave more room for innovation. Keeping in mind the previously slowed down coffee industry, and the recent surge for innovation and improvements, farmers began to implement these modern tactics of innovation into their production! There was a growing international market for high quality coffee from Colombia promoting the production of a new wave of high quality coffee in small amounts. The mentality was changing from quantity to quality.
Those Coffee People discovered the great potential of this city as their home for their specialty coffee supply company. Amazing people, perfect geography for developing various qualities of coffee, a modern and organized city moving on a spirit of innovating, a charming place to live in an establish the headquarters, a city that already works with coffee in depth, and a wave of possibilities coming from the people who comes here to enjoy this beautiful city. The cluster of the innovation, the place of the possibilities, the city of the eternal spring- this is Medellin.