COLOMBIA - FINCA LA PALMERA
Producer Ignacio Rodriguez believes that truly excellent specialty coffee will evoke the “magic of coffee” for drinkers. This delicious Natural Castillo from Eje Cafetero is indeed a magical experience.
ALTITUDE: 1,450 to 1,900 meters above sea level
PRODUCER: Ignacio Rodriguez
REGION: Anserma, Caldas
TASTING NOTES: Sweet Ripe Mango, Strawberry Candy, Washington Red Apple
Ignacio Rodriguez’s father purchased the first 12 hectares of Finca La Palmera over 50 years ago. Through tireless work, he continued expanding the farm, which reached 170 hectares by the time Ignacio inherited it. Today, Ignacio applies the same spirited focus to producing specialty-quality coffees.
ABOUT THE PRODUCERS
The name “embrujo” comes from the Spanish word for “spell”. Ignacio believes that truly excellent specialty coffee will evoke the “magic of coffee” for drinkers. To this end, he is focused on transitioning from traditional coffee cultivation to a more specialty focus. Ignacio is building a laboratory and microbiology lab to help him better understand the process at the biological level and ultimately improve his processing for consistency and flavor.
Ignacio employs 48 women year-round. These women, many of whom are single mothers supporting their families, ensure high quality by sorting cherry and parchment to remove any defective beans.
Ignacio saves the organic matter from pulping his washed process coffees and applies it to coffee trees as fertilizer. He is planning to use vermiculture to further process pulp into nutrient-rich fertilizers. Water from processing is used to irrigate his corn crops.
The processing operation is fueled entirely by renewable energy from solar panels. Another change Ignacio is making to ensure the highest quality and most sustainable processing is transitioning to lower water-use processing, like this Natural. In addition to coffee, Ignacio also grows avocados and maize.
HARVEST & POST-HARVEST
Coffee is selectively handpicked by laborers. A “patron” oversees picking to ensure only ripe, red cherry is selected. To ensure the highest quality cherry, Ignacio pays harvesters above the going rate. Once at the on-farm processing center, cherry is floated to remove over or under-ripes and then transported to moving belts where women hand sort cherry, removing any damaged cherry.
Cherry is placed in crates and transported to the warehouse where it ferments for 36 to 120 hours, depending on the ambient temperature. Then, cherry is dried in mechanical dryers. Using mechanical dryers enables Ignacio to control the temperature and makes it possible for him to process coffee consistently on a larger scale. Once dried, coffee is placed in Grainpro bags and rested before being prepared for export.
ABOUT CALDAS REGION
Parts of Caldas are located in Eje Cafetero, the Colombian Coffee Growing Axis. Eje Cafetero was the first major coffee producing region in Colombia. For many years, the region held the distinction of being the most well-known and highly-sought-after Colombian coffee region. Tropical rainforest conditions, volcanic soil and a wealth of rivers and streams in Eje Cafetero make the area ideal for coffee growing, and Manizales is located at the heart of the Caldas department in Eje Cafetero.
Today, producers in Caldas are increasingly focused on high-quality coffee production. These producers have become common and well-known enough to earn an affectionate colloquial name in the region. They’re called juiciosos (literally: sensible/wise), which in this case means hard working and attentive to detail. In addition to finding ways to perfect existing processing methods, juiciosos are experimenting with new processing methods and planting new varieties of coffee.
COFFEE IN COLOMBIA
Colombia has been producing and exporting coffee renowned for their full body, bright acidity and rich aftertaste, since the early 19th century. Colombia boasts a wide range of climates and geographic conditions that, in turn, produce their own unique flavors in coffee. This also means that harvest times can vary quite a bit. In fact, between all its different regions, Colombia produces fresh crop nearly all year round.
The increasing focus on the specialty industry is changing the way traders and farmers do business. It is becoming more common for farmers to isolate the highest quality beans in their lots to market separately. These higher-quality lots are often sold under specific brands or stories. Besides its wide variety of cup profiles, Colombia has quickly expanded its certification options over the past 10 years.