In early January this year we invited to fly out to Colombia to visit some of the farms that we have been buying from for the past few years and also to source some new coffees. This was a first for us at Round Hill Roastery. Our trip started in Medellin, a city loved by Colombians for it’s great weather and parties. However for us our trip started at Pergamino. Pergamino is a company founded by Pedro Echavarria. One part of Pergamino is sourcing and milling coffees not only from their estate Santa Barbara but also from their partner producers. The second part is a stunning coffee shop in down town El Poblado, this was such a fantastic way to start our trip we had the opportunity to drink some of the coffee which we have bought in the past few years in their country of origin.
Later in the trip we met up with Pedro again who took us on a tour of the Santa Barbara Estate. Santa Barbara estate is a short drive south of Medellin on some rather bumpy roads!
Here we visited / Finca Veracruz / Finca San Pascual / Finca La Camellia
All Farms we have bought from before and farms that we will commit to buy from in the future. Santa Barbara employs 60 full time staff all year all earning 30% above the local wage. Half of these workers receive free housing within the farms or in the local area. During the main season we learnt that a further 1200 pickers are hired. We had the opportunity to visit one of the workers houses and the main farm house dormitory. Conditions were lovely at Santa Barbara which is hugely important to us.
San Pascual is known for its Natural Process coffees, very very very rare indeed for Colombia a country that mainly produces washed coffees. San Pascual is named after a donkey, the farm rule is there must always be a donkey in the farms stables. I can proudly report that Pascual is happy and safe. The Natural Process gives the coffees a real deep fruityness and lots of boozy notes. This is an experiment for Pedro but what an experiment it is. As a result the coffee is in high demand and production is low. We were lucky enough to buy a few bags back in March and we hope to have a few more bags from the Mitaca (fly crop).
Veracruz as seen above was the last farm we visited just as the sun was going down on the last day of our trip. Veracruz was a new farm for us at Round Hill Roastery however it is one we will be buying more from. Again Veracruz is part of experimentation this time with washing. The lot that we bought from Veracruz has been fermented for a longer period of time. What this means is that the coffee cherries are picked de-pulped then washed. Day twos cherries are picked de-pulped and put in the same tank as day one. Day three the same process is repeated. What this gives the coffee is a longer fermentation which ups the winey notes in the cup and balances out the fruitiness.
We are in the process of buying more Veracruz from the Mitaca as we will not have it for long and we will miss it.
The first part of our trip was to visit the Cooperandes. Co-op Andes was founded in 1961 and help and works with about 11000 small holder farmers. Our stay was in the small town of Jardin and surrounding area. Our local guide was Juan
(as seen above) a coffee hunter working for Mercanta one of our partner import companies. A typical small holder in this area of Colombia will own 2-3 hectares of land and alongside side growing coffee will also produce avocados and plantain. In Jardin we visited:
Finca La Julia / Finca Veracruz / Finca Limon / Finca Los Pomas
Finca La Julia El Tapado was a real treat for us. The farm is 1850 meters above sea level and is owned and managed by Jesus Maria Posada and his wife Olga. We learnt about about their approach to farming and it is all about ripe fruit giving us sweet coffee. Trees are worked on a seven year cycle, heavy pruning allows for fresh cherries which are bigger and more dense. The main harvest takes places in between October and December which accounts for 60% of the harvest. The fly crop is in between April and May and accounts for the other 40%. The farm employs seven pickers during the main harvests and for the rest of the year it is just Jesus and Olga.
Below is a picture of Eddie from Round Hill Roastery with Jesus Maria Posada. We cannot wait for this coffee to arrive in a few months.
The joy of the trip was also connecting with other roasters, and making new friends.
Sven from Tangermünde Kaffeerösterei in Germany
Johannes and Corinna from JB Kaffee in Germany
And of course Jamie our UK representative from Mercanta.
We hope to go back next year to source some more amazing coffees from this region of Colombia, strengthen our relationships and make some new ones.