PSFK visits the Andes to study how an immense - and fairly ancient - system supports a huge amount of farmers to produce one of South America's most important exports.

When the PSFK.com team landed on the tarmac at Pereira on a flight from Bogota, the sun had just risen. A mini-van provided by our host Cafe De Colombia pulled us up into the mountains that flanked the small city. Across the face of the hills was a manmade landscape — fields and fields of short coffee shrubs.

The fields belong to a few of the half a million small-plot farms that produce a crop that creates 25% of Colombia's GDP and employs over a quarter of the agricultural workforce.

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