You might know that we started working with Don Elias at Finca Tamana this June. The coffees from our first harvest working together have already arrived Norway and will be for sale in early December.
In June I radically changed the way Elias picks, processes and dries his coffee in order to make sure the quality is maintained throughout the whole process. Our goal is to be able to consistently produce one of the very best coffees in Colombia, and to do so the process must be fine tuned. This involves paying pickers more, training the pickers in better cherry selection, implementing thorough routines with the wet process and drying as well as logistics, etc.
I will summarise all the extra costs in the next blog post to explain why it is important and also necessary to pay more for coffee if you want to drink great coffee.
I was pretty excited for my return to Finca Tamana for the Mitaka (small harvest in November / December ) and especially to see what Elias had decided to spend the contribution we made via our 5 year anniversary.
I am traveling together with my dear friend, exporter Alejandro Renjifo from Fairfield trading who was also very curious to see the development we had achieved together with Elias.
One of the most obvious changes at the farm was the beautiful sight of the new drying tables and patios Elias had built. All coffee is now dried in shade, which really helps improve the shelf life of the coffee. However, I am a bit concerned about this being the ideal drying facility as Elias has had drying times for up to 50 days this harvest due to a lot of rain and cloudy and humid weather. I guess today’s cupping will give me the answers to whether these drying times are way off or not, as I will be cupping all the lots Elias has produced so far this harvest. Regardless of the cupping scores, I am determined to try to look at solutions to help speed up the drying process a bit without compromising the quality. 50 days is way too long for drying as it steals capacity on the drying tables and it is risky in terms of theft, fungus attacks, etc.
I was also very happy to see that a lot of the seasonal pickers I met in June were still working with Elias. The cherry selection was a lot better than in June and the pickers seemed to have gotten the hang of how to pick efficiently, yet be very thorough while picking. I talked with some of the pickers I recognised and they told me they had been picking at other farms, but did not like it as other pickers there were very sloppy and picked a lot of unripes. They enjoyed picking ripe coffee more and felt more proud of their work while doing so. That is why they had returned to Finca Tamana for the small harvest, although there is a lot less coffee in Tamana at the moment compared to other farms in different regions where they have the main harvest now.
Elias had also bought a high pressure washer for cleaning the wet mill. Unfortunately, when we tried to use it it did not work due to a lack of electricity supply at the farm. A typical unforeseen problem, but we will be able to get a generator to fix the problem. Despite the problems with the high pressure washer, the wet mill looked cleaner than ever. Maybe because Elias had hired a new farm manager, Luciano (picture below) who is a very shy and quiet man, but is obsessed with making sure the mill and the patios are clean as well as checking that the pickers are picking correctly. Hopefully he will be working with us for a long time.
In the field, Elias had planted 3 hectares of the new Castillo Variety that will be in full production from 2014. I am very excited about this as I have cupped a lot of Castillos during the past year that have performed really well in the cup. The Castillo variety is a crossing between Hybrido de Timor and Caturra and has been developed by Cenicafe in Colombia. It is a leaf rust and Coffee Berry Disease resistant variety that produces well and in my experience tastes good too. It is an improved version of the Colombia variety that in some cases has actually cupped better at Finca Tamana than the Caturra variety. Hopefully the Castillo will produce great tasting coffee at Finca Tamana too.
Now I am off to go to Coocentral to cup the 15 different lots from Tamana which has been produced during the Mitaka so far. I will be writing more about the Mitaka and quality / pricing in the next posts. I am also running some experiments with fermentation at the farm, but they won’t be ready for tasting for another 30 days, so that will come later.