It has been a while since I have made a blog post from Finca Tamana. A lot has happened since we started working with Don Elias 2 years ago and although I have covered a lot in our newly published book, there has been huge improvements just in the last 2 months.
I visited Finca Tamana in March this year in order to have some meetings and also to plan the improvements we wanted to implement together with Elias. It is hard to discuss and implement improvements during harvest time, because then everyone is busy with picking, processing and drying the coffee. Therefore it was great to be able to spend a week at the farm in February in order to make wise decisions on how to progress.
I was able to make extensive spreadsheets trying to figure out the costs of production, and all other expenses that Elias has during a year. By making Elias understanding his costs it will be a lot easier for him to set aside money for harvests, etc. It was quite hard to put together a budget for him as all expenses are paid cash and receipts are never saved. Therefore I had to pick his brain in several 2 hour sessions each morning during my stay. It was really interesting to see how much money and time that is involved in a farm throughout the year. Although the numbers are based on estimates, the plan is to teach Elias’ wife, Bella, to start keeping records of all expenses with the help of spreadsheets.
We also planted small quantities of seeds from different cultivars. The plan is to make a small cultivar garden and see if threre are any interesting cultivars we can produce on the farm. We also planted seeds from new cultivars in bigger quantities that will be in production in 2-3 years from now.
I was lucky to be accompanied by 2 baristas from Amor Perfecto. Elias’ daughter Derlin and her colleague Diego who also worked as my translator on the trip. Derlin started working as a barista late 2013 after I had a talk with her last year and recommended her to start learning English and go and work for Luis Fernando Veles at Amor Perfecto. She seems to love the job as a barista and came with me to Finca Tamana to learn more about what her father does on the farm and the way he processes coffee.
She is also getting in to cupping, so we had a cupping session every morning together with Elias in order to discuss what makes the differences in quality in different coffees.
I think it is great that Derlin and Elias are interested in learning how to cup taste. This way they will be able to help me evaluate quality and also understand the value of their own product.
One of the biggest reasons for me to og to Finca Tamana in March was also to meet with a company called Yara. Yara produces fertilizer on a global scale but it happens to be a Norwegian company. They contacted me in late 2013 (after reading about what we do at TW in an inflight magazine) to ask me if I knew someone who could help them with a research project they wanted to conduct. Since they provide a lot of coffee farmers with fertilizer they wanted to research more about how to improve the quality of the coffee with their products. Therefore they needed a farm to work with that had good infrastructure and also a group of people that could help them evaluate quality. I immediately offered to help and also suggested that they could work with Elias in order to conduct their research. After a lot of emailing we decided to meet in Bogota with Elias and all the involved people and researchers at Yara. The meeting was extremely positive and I am so happy to announce that we will be working with Yara on a very exciting research project at Finca Tamana.
The research will be done over a period of 3-5 years and the aim of the research is to learn how different micro nutrients and fertilizers affect the quality of the coffee in the cup.
There has been very little research done in the pas ton this subject (if any at all) and most research on fertilizer has been focusing on yields and disease resistance.
Yara will conduct proper scientific research at Finca Tamana and Elias and I will be helping with the processing, separation of lots and protocol on the farm. I will also gather a group of cuppers to evaluate the samples from the research. I am extremely excited about this project and hopefully we will discover and learn how we can work smarter with fertilizers in order to improve coffee quality.
Before I left the farm in March, Elias and I made a list of necessary tasks and infrastructure that had to be in place for the next harvest (which is the one happening now from April to July). I will tell you more about the changest hat has been done since then in the next blog post.