Since the advent of Juan Valdez and the Colombian marketing machine in the 1980’s, most of Colombia’s coffee producers have replanted their farms with highly productive and hearty coffee varieties. They grow these varieties in high density, removing nearly all the shade from their farms, and they use agrochemicals more frequently. In contrast, the small region of Palestina, situated in the southern part of the department of Huila, still maintains some of the coffee varieties that gave Colombia its original coffee fame.
Additionally, the region of Palestina still has many of the Guamo trees originally used for shade, the planting densities are more manageable, and so they depend less on fertilization. We began working in this region in 2014 with Jose Martinez, whose farm is in the district of Sinai within Palestina. Since then, Sebastian has been very keen on working more within the region.
At the same time in 2014, Caravela, our sourcing partner in Colombia, setup a buying warehouse in the town of Palestina. During one of Sebastian’s visits in 2015, he asked Victor – the cupper in charge of the Palestina warehouse – to set up a few cupping tables to taste Jose’s coffee along with a range of others from the Palestina region. The cuppings showed the raw potential there is in the region, and additionally, Sebastian was very impressed with the coffees from a geographic area that extends from the town of Palestina to the tiny region known as Jericó. At the time, he didn’t know much about the individual producers of Jericó, but he made a plan to delve further into them on his next trip.
During Sebastian’s next visit to Colombia in November 2016, he discovered Alfonso’s coffee while cupping again with Victor. The coffee leapt off of the cupping table with rich jammy notes, silky mouthfeel and juicy acidity. Victor mentioned that Alfonso’s coffee had been impressing him since he first tasted it a few months prior. Alfonso happened to be at the warehouse during the cupping and Sebastian had a chance to meet him and get a sense of our philosophical alignment when it comes to coffee quality. It was a great first meeting and Sebastian made the call at that point to begin buying from Alfonso. Since then, we haven’t looked back, the coffee has been very impressive.
His farm sits between 1700m and 1800m and although his property is quite large (30 hectares) he has only planted seven hectares with coffee. Most the coffee planted on his farm is Caturra, but he also has Tabi and Bourbon varieties as well. Alfonso’s processing is quite traditional and basic. He ferments the coffee for approximately 36 hours, then dries the coffee using the traditional “Casa Helda” method. This means the coffee is dried on the flat part of the roof of his house, with a retractable roof to protect the coffee at night and from the elements.
Alfonso’s coffee was picked in the month of December of 2016, so it’s quite fresh and vibrant. As always, we froze this coffee on arrival to further preserve its freshness.
PRODUCERS: Alfonso Mateus
HARVEST DATE: December, 2016
PROCESSING: Fully Washed by Fermentation
SHIPPING: Shipped in a -18C freezing container
STORAGE: Green coffee frozen to preserve freshness