This paper considers the role and modus operandi of the National Coffee Federation of Colombia. Much respected and much criticized over time, today its role is being challenged as inappropriate to the new commitment to a free market economy. The paper evaluates the historical role of the federation, and finds its rationale in collective action problems with an important role for historical continuity and an evolving culture. The present-day role of the federation is also discussed, under the new market paradigm, and it is concluded that it would be rash to ignore the value-added from the special historical characteristics built up over time. The value added applies to both efficiency and equity outcomes.