On the top of a mountain deep in the Colombian jungle, on a pole atop a humble villa, a Greek flag flutters in the breeze along with the Colombian flag.
The villa, overlooking the coffee plantations which spread out below it as far the eye can see, belongs to Dimitrios Christopoulos, a Greek immigrant. The enterprising and indefatigable Greek is the founder of his own coffee-growing farm, Finca El Diamante, outside the remote village of Garzón in the Huila prefecture of Colombia.
Christopoulos, who is married to Colombian Marlene Colmenares, is the only known Greek coffee producer in the world.
Speaking to the Greek Reporter, he relates: “I firstly fell in love with my wife and then with coffee… We met in Greece when my wife came for holidays. Eventually she ‘imported’ me to Colombia.”
He explains that when he arrived in Colombia he thought of coffee production more as a just a hobby. Things gradually changed, however, and now he has become such a successful coffee producer that he not only cultivates his own variety of coffee beans but trains local farmers to produce high-quality coffee as well.
Garzon, located in the center of the Colombian department of Huila, about 450 kilometers (280 miles) south of the Colombian capital of Bogotá, is known for being one of the regions where the best coffee in the world is grown and processed.
Christopoulos admits that producing coffee is a tough job. “From six in the morning until six in the evening, we are at work… There is little time left for fun and relaxation.”
He explains that the price of coffee has fallen during the last year and people are now struggling to make a living in the business.
“Multinational companies are striving to buy the product at very low prices and sell high… They want Colombians to remain slaves because some want to make lots of money,” he says.
Christopoulos is helping to organize coffee producers into a co-op, which will then export their product directly into foreign markets, instead of using multinational companies and middlemen. “Our motto here, is: strength in union,” the Greek immigrant says.
“I have earned the nickname of ‘patron’ because I am trying to help farmers make a decent living,” Christopoulos says with pride.