Farewell to Juan Valdez

Carlos José Sánchez Jaramillo (1935-2018) had been the image of Colombian coffee before the world for more than 37 years …

Juan Valdez Icon
Carlos Sanchez, Juan Valdez (1935-2018)

And his face remains registered in the minds of those of us who drink this black wine produced by the hands of thousands of peasants who strive to create the smoothest coffee in the planet.

“This icon will be remembered in the future”

As the common peasant who lent his image to become ambassador for coffee growers. This was Carlos Sanchez, who died last December 29 because of a respiratory infection which had afflicted him for several months.

He was born in the north of Antioquia, in a coffee-growing
town called Fredonia, which performs the traditional Fiesta del Café. He
arrived to Medellin after abandoning his high school studies to do theater, until
one day in Bogota he found a casting for a peasant man.

That day he had shaved and one of the requirements was a mustache. They lent him a fake one for the presentation. The facial hair was the only detail they had to fix since the rest of his features, his accent and wide hands were perfect for the character they were looking for. The Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia were hoping to find the face of their brand of Coffee, Juan Valdez.

Thus, he got the part and started working in 1969 dressed with
the aguadeño hat, poncho, brown denim
pants, espadrilles, carriel or
leather bag and machete to his belt, without forgetting his inseparable
Conchita, the mule that would accompany him to promote the work of more than
500,000 Colombian coffee growers who extract the most exquisite grains to
produce premium coffee.

Ambassador tasks

He traveled to the United States, Japan and Europe and with espadrilles and carriel, he entered several boards of directors with the greatest pride at wearing the typical costume of the peasants he represented. He was also in the company of British royalty and Mohamed Ali.