Origins: Bolivia



Size -  1,098,581 sq km

Capital Cities - La Paz (administrative);

Sucre (constitutional)

Main Port City - Arica, Chile

Population - 12,172,000 (2023 est.)

Language/s Spoken - Spanish and 36 indigenous languages


Population Involved in Coffee - around 12,000 farming families

Typical Farm Size - 1-8 hectares

Bags Exported Annually - 30,000 bags


Growing Regions - La Paz, La Asunta, Caranavi, Cochabamba, Teoponte

Common Varieties - Typica, Red Catuai

Processing Methods - Washed, Natural

Bag Size - 60 kg

Harvest Period - June-October

Typical Arrival - Jan-Apr


We sourced some Bolivian offerings around 2010, but we’ve returned to the country with new relationships and a renewed focus on discovery in the 2021-22 harvest, working with Felix Chambi. Felix is a pioneer in Bolivian specialty coffee, having the only SCA-certified sensory lab in the country called Lata 16. With Felix, we cup lots from the La Paz departments, specifically in the La Asunta and Caranavi municipalities, all within the La Paz department. This area, covered by the mountainous Caranavi forest, has always been the country’s most productive region, but there have been many factors that challenge the country’s consistency, namely high export prices due to being landlocked, mountains that are difficult to traverse, and competition with historically more profitable agriculture. Like all producing countries, though, there is a pocket of committed specialty coffee producers. Expanding our offerings list to Bolivia goes hand in hand with the goal of helping more producers reach our roasting community.

In Bolivia, we see producers who are committed to learning better techniques, growing new varieties, and testing different processes, all while maintaining ecological equilibrium. Farms range in style from coffee gardens like Ethiopia, open-sun like Brazil, and shade-grown like Colombia. Many producers spend time sorting cherries and building processing infrastructure. The offerings range from Organic and Fair-Trade certified to microlots of all processes to Bird-Friendly certified. Many producers, who are part of the indigenous community are very connected in their goal to reach the specialty market.

This rise in specialty-focused production, cooperatives, consumption, and education makes Bolivia a source for new coffee experiences. We are inspired by the producers we’ve met in the Caranavi to continue our sourcing efforts here.


Exactly how and when coffee came to Bolivia is uncertain. Similar to many other areas of the Americas, coffee was likely brought by enslaved people from Africa. The first records of coffee in Bolivia come from the 18th century through estates in the Yungas region, grown and consumed by the landowners. Later plantations began in the Yungas, but it was never the main crop. Coca leaves grew very well in the region and, at the start of the 20th century, made up 95% of the agricultural market in Bolivia. This prompted a movement to diversify crops to avoid dependence on coca production. With a significant increase in global coffee consumption from around 1970, coffee production expanded more intensively in areas like Caranavi and La Asunta. In the 1980s, with the passage of Law 1008, which regulated coca and controlled substances and defined traditional and surplus coca cultivation areas, coffee was once again considered an economic alternative to replacing these crops. In the following years, several cooperatives and associations were created that would dominate a significant portion of coffee production compared to independent producers. During the 1990s, production levels peaked at around 156,400 60 kg sacks.

Since the record production in the 1990s, Bolivia’s exports have wavered. There was a steep decline to an average of 57,420 60 kg sacks of green coffee by 2016. Despite the lower volume, profits have not decreased terribly, thanks to the shift to primarily fair trade and organic markets. Today, Bolivian coffee production is likely on the rise again. Coffees from the country are in high demand in the specialty market, and local consumption is increasing. New cafes are opening exponentially in larger cities and towns. In recent years, young professionals with knowledge of the "third wave of coffee" have emerged, and more and more people are becoming interested in this topic daily. 12,000 families in the Caranavi depend on coffee as their primary source of income.

Coffee production is also being promoted as part of the National Strategy for Sustainable Integral Development. It is one of the prioritized sectors under the strategic guideline of fostering, promoting, and consolidating the production of competitive agro-industrial products with potential for national and international markets.

Bolivia is ready to enter this new phase, but it requires a comprehensive effort involving everyone from the producer to the barista in pursuit of the common good, which will turn Bolivia into a reference point in the specialty coffee world.