Coffee growing appeared in the region in the mid 1900´s as a result of the colonization of what used to be known as Viejo Caldas, north Tolima and northeast Valle del Cauca by Antioquian families.
The colonization process entailed the exploiting of family labor and the implementation of a landownership model based on small and medium size properties. The importance of family unity, bolstered by the predominance of family peasant groups, permeated the region´s socioeconomic structure and became a vital part of the Coffee Cultural Landscape of Colombia´s (PCC) essence.
Coffee growing enabled the intensive use of the two production factors available for producers: land and labor. Additionally, it allowed farmers to develop a source of income that didn’t sacrifice subsistence crops such as corn, beans and vegetables.
The new settlers quickly adapted to the difficulties set by the new environment. By articulating the territory´s previously existent features with additional ones, they developed the productive activities and community life that determined the dynamics of the region´s living landscape.
The colonization also fomented the establishment of communities, which then became towns, in mountain edges and slopes. As coffee growing became a predominant activity, new elements related to transportation and commercialization, such as “arrieros” (muleteers), became part of the landscape. With time, modern and efficient means such as the Manizales– Villamaría Mariquita cable crane (1922), the Manizales – Aranzazu cable crane (1929) and the Caldas railroad (1927) kept transforming the landscape and adding the unique features that still identify it today.
Coffee growing, post-harvesting processes, and commercialization generated a sustainable source of income for coffee growers and their families. Besides encouraging the consolidation and expansion of domestic markets, they fomented the development of a coffee region and culture.