Alto del Obispo, Colombia
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Roast Level: Medium
Process: Washed and sun dried on patios or elbas
Varietal: Caturra 33%, Colombia 33% and Castillo 33%
Roaster's Notes: Coming in from the Huila region, this is another great example of easy drinking Colombian coffee. Slightly sweeter than some others we have seen, with delicious caramel notes cut with a grapefruit acidity.
Producer: Huila Dept.
Altitude: 1,300 - 1,950 metres
Whilst Huila is naturally blessed with optimal coffee growing geography, the key to great quality coffees from the areas around San Agustin (such as this lot) are the growers themselves. Coffee farming within the region is overwhelmingly small-scale. Indeed, approximately 80% of producers from the region farm coffee on less than 3 hectares of land. These small farms are tended by individual families with labour only very rarely being contracted out, which leads to more thorough and intensive management practices and great pride in the final product – which is, itself, an extension of the family.
Alto del Obispo lies just to the south of San Agustin, possessing stunning views across the valley to the hillslopes across. Mercanta’s exporting partner for this Huila lot has partnered with local farmers in the green hills surrounding San Agustin and the nearby town of Pitalito for over 25 years. Together they have pioneered the commercialization of specialty coffee throughout the region, resulting in some stunning coffees from this area of optimal natural conditions for coffee farming. This has included the establishment of the ‘Club San Agustin’, which identifies the 50 top quality producers via an annual cupping competition. This competition, over the years, has resulted in strong direct relationships and sourcing from individual farmers, including the provision of technical services for improved agricultural practices with a strong focus on cup quality. In support of their efforts, ‘Club Agustin’ producers receive year-round technical assistance, including soil analysis, and receive help in processing recommendations, including guidance on drying processes and wet mill maintenance.
These producers are a carefully-selected group of small producers who understand strict quality standards and are fully committed to producing and delivering their best coffees. Among these producers, we can find several participants in and some winners of COE competitions. A most recent example of one is a long-term ‘Club’ participant, Alirio Aguilera who’s Finca San Isidro won 1st place in 2013’s Cup of Excellence competition.
Support also is given with regards to social well-being. In 2004, a community centre was built in the nearby town of Alto del Obispo which offers childcare and infant nutrition programs for up to 80 children daily (with all operating costs covered by our exporting partner). Improvements in the community centre are also being planned, particularly the construction of a football pitch/sports field for the children.