Behind the Beans: Lukas Harbig, co-founder of cumpa

About “Behind the Beans”

Since cumpa was founded, we have met many exciting personalities from the coffee world and made friends. In “Behind the Beans” we want to introduce you to them and take a look behind the scenes together. To kick off this new series, however, we’re starting with our co-founder Lukas. If you know cumpa, then you know Lukas. His passion for coffee goes back a long way. In 2018, he finally turned it into his profession together with his friend Daniel.

Behind the Beans: with Lukas Harbig, co-founder of  cumpa 

What is your relationship with cumpa?

I founded cumpa together with my friend Daniel. The idea that importing green coffee could be my thing came to me after a long trip in and around Peru. The word cumpa also comes from the Peruvian jungle. For me, cumpa is a dream come true over the years.

Why did you end up in the coffee industry?

My path to the coffee industry began in the Peruvian jungle in 2014. After completing an apprenticeship as a banker and a year of backpacking, I had to come up with something new for my life. And I didn’t want to go back to the bank. In the meantime, I made friends in the coffee industry in Moyobamba. My studies of International Management represented the perfect balance of “continuing to use the old” and “working towards the new”. Wherever I could, I got involved with coffee during my studies, spending periods of study in Peru and Colombia, working at Good Karma Coffee’s roastery on the side. I love the coffee industry because I actively promote international understanding. I have a positive influence on global events.

What do you like about the specialty coffee industry?

It is very progressive and much more reflected than other industries. Despite the shady colonial past, or maybe because of it, people are interested in real development. They show empathy and you find very few money-grubbing financial sharks. In general, the actors are young and similarly driven by left-green ideas as I am.

What do you want to achieve with coffee?

I want to fill my life with an exciting and meaningful time through coffee. I find meaning in being meaningful to people, on this side of the ocean and across the ocean. These two groups often have no idea how each other is doing. It’s a privilege to be able to connect and understand each other through coffee.

What does (specialty) coffee mean to you?

Probably a lot more than it means to the vast majority of people. I know the entire journey of coffee and have countless memories of many adventures together. I have access to incredible life stories. I have them in my head when I sell green coffee, or when I drink one of our coffees. In that way, specialty coffee touches me on a personal, intimate level.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you in a coffee context? 

A highlight was hiking with Don Martin in 2019 to his finca “La Piramide” near Moyobamba, Peru. We knew each other well at that moment and I had been to the finca before. But it was only during this visit that he told me WHY he grows coffee on “La Piramide”. There had been a murder attempt on him in 1999 in his old home country. In the same night of the attack he had to flee with his family here to the mountain rainforest and started a new life. We walked together through pouring rain, he told me his story, in my head were a thousand questions. In the evening we made coffee by the fire in his hut and talked for a long time. The next day we walked through the finca “La Piramide”. You can clearly see that there must have been a stone construction there at some point. The finca stands on a ruin from the pre-Inca period, which is why it is called “La Piramide”. A wild story about coffee, jungle, life as a pioneer, poverty, crime, terrorism, escape from violence, despair and hope. Again and again the start from zero. An adventure you don’t want to experience yourself. It inspired me a lot.

What coffee prejudice would you like to dispel?

Roasters should be aware of the meaning and history of the word “plantation” and use it less, especially in relation to Peruvian coffee. These coffees are produced on fincas, which are very small and have been owned by farmers since the agricultural revolution in 1976.

What coffee highlight are you most looking forward to right now?

The arrival of our Peruvian microlots in the first quarter of 2022.

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