In early 2015, Sebastian visited Jose and learned that he was born on a coffee farm and first learned about coffee from his father. When he was 16 Jose decided to leave the farm, and ended up becoming a bus driver. He did this for over a decade until he decided to return to the home, buy the farm from his dad, and follow in his footsteps. Although he now regrets temporarily leaving the farm, he feels the time away developed a fire within him to become a better coffee producer. This fire is evident when visiting his farm. It is not over-planted nor deprived of natural shade, as is very common in Colombia. The trees look healthy and well-pruned. He has planted mostly Caturra, but has some Typica and Tabi trees that he is beginning to experiment with. Jose uses a Brix meter to calibrate his pickers to pick optimally ripe cherries, which is very rare to see.
Jose also likes to take measurements at the fermentation tanks. He measures ambient temperature and takes more Brix readings of the mucilage during fermentation. He then uses these readings to help him determine the right endpoint for his fermentation.
During Sebastian’s second visit in 2015, he was once again impressed by Jose’s work ethic and commitment. Jose built a large and impressive shaded drying structure with a creative curtain system to control the airflow, which is key to drying coffee well. During this visit, Sebastian spent more time admiring Jose’s farm and realized that this tiny region of Colombia actually retained many of the original shade trees, something that is rare for Colombia. Sebastian believes this plays a role in the exceptional cup quality that Jose produces.
During Sebastian’s most recent visits through 2016, he found that the improvements at the farm have continued. In true Jose style, he has gone above and beyond and has turned his drying structure into a hyper clean facility. The pre-drying area under the raised dryer (where coffee is shade-dried for 10-12 days) normally has dirt or, at best, grass. Jose decided to do it right and poured concrete on the floor and would like to lay tile one day, when the budget allows. He also neatly fenced off the entire pre-drying area, keeping animals away, which makes the whole drying operation feel very clean, professional and well cared for.
This past June, we signed a long-term contract with Jose where we are committing to buy nearly his entire harvest at high prices. Jose and his wife Francy were delighted, grateful, and excited for this contract. As a company who spends a great deal of money and time visiting producers, there is no greater feeling than seeing a producer happy with our business arrangement and proud to work hard to make great coffee.
In a high-risk, high-reward move, we decided to freeze the coffee from this past harvest in-transit by shipping it to Calgary in a frozen container. To the best of our knowledge this is the first time anyone has done this with coffee. Once the coffee arrived in Calgary, we off-loaded the container in our frozen warehouse, where it is stored until the time of roasting. We are seeing game-changing results with our freezing strategy as the coffee preserves its unique attributes over a much longer period of time.
REGION: Palestina, Huila
PRODUCER: Jose Martinez
VARIETY: Caturra and Tabi
PROCESSING: Washed By Fermentation
DRYING: Roof-top Patio
PACKAGING: Grain Pro
HARVEST: June-August, 2016
STORAGE: Green coffee frozen to preserve freshness