We are excited to present our two most recent arrivals from Colombia. These coffees are a result of our journey through the department of Tolima last year. After cupping through numerous producer lots in Seattle, Bogota, and Ibague, we sketched a loose itinerary and hit the road.
We got stuck on a few occasions, but eventually made our way to some gorgeous farms in Gaitainia, Planadas, Bilbao, Herrera, El Limon, and San Juan de la China. I was tremendously impressed by the skill, dedication, and knowledge exhibited by the many farmers we met. Two among them stood out, not only for the quality of their coffee, but for their tremendous hospitality and passion for coffee cultivation.
Just outside of the town of Bilbao we were hosted by Norbey de Jesus Estrada at his farm, La Bastilla. The land was previously used for grazing cattle, before Norbey saved enough money as a coffee picker in Antioquia to purchase the farm. In the ten years since, he’s planted mostly the caturra variety, along with a small amount of the rust resistant varieties castillo and Colombia.
Norbey lives with his wife and two children at the farm and hires a few hands from nearby to help during harvest. We were offered a delicious lunch: rice, beans, salted beef, and a massive bowl of colada for dessert. We noticed that his coffee pulper, fermentation tank, and drying racks were immaculately clean and the water used for washing coffee is from the same fresh spring the family drinks. These factors, in addition to the lofty elevation, fertile soil, and attention to detail, result in a super sweet, balanced cup of coffee,
About 250 km north of Norbey’s farm, near the town of San Juan de la China, we met another young, dedicated coffee farmer – Jhon Leguizamon. His farm, La Esperanza, is situated on a steep, north facing slope and is planted with an even mix of caturra, Colombia, and castillo. Jhon was born on the farm and inherited it from his father eleven years ago.
In total, four hectares are planted with coffee, while three hectares are set aside as virgin forest. The micro-climate features wide temperature swings, affected by the cold wind blowing down from the snow capped peak of Nevado de Tolima and the hot, humid air rising from the valley below. Extreme conditions often result in exquisite coffees – and Jhon’s is a prime example of this.
The great care taken during the harvest, washing, and drying of coffee were on full display during our visit. Precise cherry selection, meticulous sorting, carefully monitored fermentation, and a unique two-stage drying set-up were highlights of his process. Jhon’s goal is to produce the highest quality coffee possible and then help his father convert his farm to full organic production – a rarity in Colombia.