Exploring the Roots of Our Fiery Flavor
Quindío, nestled in the Andean region of Colombia, is a true gem. It's a place that's renowned for its stunning natural beauty, rolling hills, fertile valleys, and of course, its coffee. In fact, Quindío is part of the coffee triangle, which includes the departments of Risaraldas and Caldas. Together, these regions have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their cultural significance and exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape.
This region reflects a centennial tradition of coffee growing in small plots in the high forest, and the way farmers have adapted cultivation to difficult mountain conditions. But it's not just coffee that's grown here. Quindío is also known for cultivating other crops, including bananas, avocados, oranges, and chilies.
Speaking of chilies, Quindío is home to some of the most delicious and flavorful varieties of chili peppers in the world. The four principal chilies cultivated here include the Colombian ají dulce, ají amarillo, ají limón, and rocoto. These peppers are used in a variety of dishes, including stews, soups, sauces, and marinades.
But it's not just the food that makes Quindío special. This region is also home to some fascinating small towns and the capital city of Armenia, which is known for hosting cultural events. And let's not forget about the eco-friendly farmers who cultivate these crops using sustainable and regenerative agriculture practices.
Here at Lopuna, we're proud to work with these farmers to produce our fabulous collection of chili-spiced salts. We carefully select the freshest chili peppers from the eco-friendliest farmers to dehydrate using our artisanal, shade-drying method. This ensures that all the flavor is beautifully preserved, so whether you like a spicy kick or just a warm glow added to your agave-based cocktails, micheladas, pizzas, and salads, we've got a taste sensation calibrated for everyone.
Whether you like mild or fiery flavors, our collection has something for all. And for serious spice enthusiasts, why not furnish your kitchen with the complete set?
"Spice up your life"
Learn about the other places we source our chilies, including spices from Amazonas, Bolivar and Valle del Cauca.
"Expand your knowledge"
Colombian Amazon, a region in the southeastern part of Colombia, is a hub for traditional Colombian cuisine. The area is one of the most biodiverse regions globally, home to numerous species of flora and fauna. The Amazon rainforest provides a safe haven for many endangered species, and it also supports various indigenous communities.
Apart from its significance in Colombian cuisine, the Colombian Amazon is an essential source of natural resources, including timber, oil, and minerals. Nonetheless, the region has encountered several challenges recently, such as deforestation, illegal mining, and drug trafficking. Lopuna, a company with a mission to support regenerative farmers from all over Colombia, focuses on preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity of the Colombian Amazon.
The Amazon basin, which comprises Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil, houses Capsicum Chinense, a chili species that has been domesticated and extended throughout the region for thousands of years. Lopuna sources their chilies from local farms, including those owned by members of the Lopuna family.
Lopuna’s eco-friendly family of farmers in Colombia cultivates a range of chili varieties, including guajillo, arbol, aji amarillo, chipotle, jalapeño, pasilla, piquin, red New Mexico, and rocoto. With these chilies, Lopuna produces worm and ant salts tailored to suit every palate. The organic chillies are grown not only in the Colombian Amazon but also in other regions of Colombia, such as Bolivar, Valle del Cauca, and Quindio.
Lopuna's artisanal, shade-drying method ensures that they only select the freshest chili peppers from the eco-friendliest farmers, preserving all the flavor. Whether you prefer a spicy kick or a warm glow in your agave-based cocktails, micheladas, pizzas, or salads, Lopuna's collection of chili-spiced salts offers a taste sensation for everyone.
So, what exactly is a Mojojoy Worm and how is it processed?
1. The Mojojoy Worm, my friend, is a traditional ingredient in Colombian cuisine, particularly in the Amazon region. It is a large, white grub that inhabits the trunks and roots of certain trees in the rainforest. The worm is a good source of protein and is commonly used in stews, soups, and other dishes. As for how it is processed, there are a few different methods, but typically it involves boiling or frying the worm to remove the outer skin and soften the meat. From there, it can be seasoned and incorporated into various dishes to add a unique texture and flavor.
2. In the heart of the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon, lies a hidden gem of protein - the Mojojoy worm. These grubs are a lesser-known delicacy of Colombian cuisine, yet they are packed full of flavor and are rich in nutrients and protein. The name Mojojoy is given to the larvae of various palm weevils found in the Amazon jungle of Colombia, and they are considered a delicacy by local indigenous tribes.
In the forest, these larvae are often eaten alive or prepared by various methods such as roasting, frying, grilling, or stuffing with beef, chicken, or fish. They have a hazelnut or buttery taste and texture and are filled with protein, vitamins A and E, and beta-carotene.
But what sets them apart is Lopuna's premium Mojojoy Worm Salt or Sal de Gusano, made with a carefully selected mix of organic chilis, fire-roasted and dried worms handpicked by their team of regenerative farmers, and crystalline sea salt from Galerazamba on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. This sultry, smoky, and uniquely natural culinary delight is the perfect accompaniment to any fruit, shot of Mezcal, Tequila, or Viche and can add some spice to your dinner party.
With a socially sensitive, healthy-eating purchase of Lopuna's delicious Mojojoy Worm Salt, you not only expand your flavor consciousness but also leave money in the pockets of people that need it while indulging in the delectable taste of the Colombian and Peruvian Amazon.
The Lopuna Story, How it Started?
Noah Matthies has a deep connection to the Amazon rainforest and its people, having traveled there frequently over the last 13 years. During his travels, he met many different ethnic groups and developed a profound respect for their traditional knowledge and medicinal practices. In 2020, amidst the pandemic, he founded Lopuna, a Colombian based company producing premium Sal de Gusano, or worm salt and Atta ant salt. His goal was simple: to provide work for his struggling Colombian bartender friends while preserving the traditional indigenous wisdom and showcasing the unique ingredients of Colombian cuisine.
As the business grew, Matthies expanded his product line to include peppers from different regions of Colombia. But Lopuna is not just a business, it's a regenerative one. The worms and ants used in Lopuna's products are sourced from different regions of Colombia, including the Leticia region for worms and Santander for ants. Matthies has developed close relations with producers growing the peppers used in Lopuna's products in various regions such as Cali, Pereira, Filandia, the Caribbean coast as well as the Amazon.
Lopuna has grown from a response to pandemic hardships to a passion project that showcases regenerative farming practices and preserves traditional indigenous wisdom. It's a testament to Matthies' love for Colombian cuisine, and you can taste it in every sip of their premium worm salt and organic chilis, which are designed to expand flavor consciousness.
Who is Noah Matthies?
Today, I am thrilled to share with you the inspiring tale of a visionary man who is revolutionizing Colombia's hospitality and bar scene. His name is Noah Matthies, and he is the founder and CEO of Lopuna, a transformative enterprise that interweaves the worlds of hospitality, indigenous wisdom, sustainable farming, and entomophagy.
Prior to establishing Lopuna in 2020, Noah gained recognition for his instrumental role in establishing El Baron, a chic cocktail bar in Cartagena, as one of only three Colombian drinking establishments to be featured on the esteemed list of the world's top 100 bars. That is truly a remarkable achievement, my friends.
Noah's odyssey in Colombia began 12 years ago when he embarked on a backpacking trip to the country, enamored by its charm and the warmth of its people. This journey sparked a profound love affair with Colombia that endures to this day. After settling in the coastal city of Cartagena, Noah launched his first entrepreneurial venture, a yogurt company, while honing his skills in the bars and kitchens of his adopted hometown.
Driven by his passion for the food and hospitality industry, Noah embarked on extensive travels throughout Latin America and Colombia, delving deep into the region's gastronomic heritage and serving as a guest bartender at some of the finest bars across the USA, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, and Colombia. Leveraging his training in chemistry in Germany, he and his team of bartenders have spent over a decade experimenting with Colombian ingredients, introducing sophisticated flavors and elevating taste consciousness through the cocktail menus of Colombia's top restaurants.
But Noah's ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit did not stop there. When the pandemic struck, he and his team of bartenders labored tirelessly to turn their vision of sharing Colombia's flavors with the world into a reality with Lopuna. Their unwavering focus on sustainable and regenerative farming practices and sourcing premium ingredients from Colombian farmers underscores their unwavering commitment to environmental conservation.
Noah's ultimate objective is to foster a profound connection between individuals and the earth, and to encourage greater mindfulness of the things we consume in our daily lives. That is why every item on Lopuna's menu is designed to expand one's palate and elevate flavor consciousness. Indeed, we live in an exciting era.