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His Majesty The Coffee
Region: Huila, Teruel
Producer: Juan Hernando Insuasti
Arabica Variety: Castillo, Colombia
Altitude: 1600 masl
Processing: fully washed
Tasting notes: pomelo - physalis alkekengi - golden syrup
suggested for: filter
Juan’s farm, La Martina is unlike most of the farms we work with in Colombia with 16 hectares under coffee and the whole farm stretching across 17 hectares. By Colombian standards the farm is considered and Estate. Juan has owned the farm for the last three years. He is growing mostly Castillo and Colombia, but recently planted 1,800 geisha trees. So we should soon see the production of La Martina Geisha.
Because of the location of the farm to Colombia’s sugar loaf mountain, Pan de Azúcar mountain, there are two alpine springs running through Juan’s farm giving ample supply of water.
Coffees are picked in 3-4 passes. Meaning the producers/workers pick the more or less ripe cherries in one block. Then they might wait a few weeks until it’s again a decent amount of ripe cherries to pick in that same place. Generally, the first and last pass is of lower quality, and the second and third will be considered as the best, with more ripe cherries and uniform quality. When we can, we try to buy parchment harvested in these two passes.
The coffee from Huila is generally fully washed, meaning pulped and fermented the traditional way. There are a few exceptions where farmers are using eco-pulpers with mechanical removal of mucilage, and/or are doing honeys, but it’s still not to common.
This is the most common and widely used method. The farmer will have a small beneficio, a small manual or electric pulper and a fermentation tank. They pulp the cherries in the afternoon. The coffees are going straight from the pulper in to the fermentation tank. It is usually fermenting for 30 hours, depending on the temperature. Higher temperature will speed up the fermentation process, and lower temperature will slow it down. Some producers do intermediate rinsing with water, that can also help them control the process.
Washing and grading
They normally stir the coffees in tanks or small channels before they remove the floaters. For the ones without channels it’s common to wash the coffees in the fermentation tank and skim off the floaters before it goes to the drying.
For the smallholders in regions like Huila the coffees are commonly sun dried in parabolic dryers that almost works as green houses. The better producers have well ventilated facilities. There are many different variations and constructions, but generally they are all systems that is able to protect the coffee from rain. We have generally seen that the producers that have constructions with good ventilation and manage to dry the coffee down to below 11% in 8 days often have very good and consistent coffees. Drying in Huila is a big challenge due to rain and high humidity. During drying the producers hand sort the parchment coffee for impurities and defects. By receiving premium payments, the producers can improve their facilities, by building new or reconstruct the dryers to increase ventilation and potentially add shade nets to slower drying, and hence improve the quality and longevity of the coffee.