Finca La Palma is the name of Leonila Tulcanes’ farm. It is located at 1950 masl in the municipality of Consacá, Nariño. This lot is 100% Variedad Colombia. Like the majority of farmers in Colombia, Leonila is using dry fermentation in his processing. After washing, the coffee is dried on patio for 10 days.
Cafe Occidente farmers
Nariño is located in the far south-west of Colombia bordering Ecuador, and is in general one of the most challenging, but also most interesting places to work. There is extremely high elevation, coffee up to 2200 meters, very steep hillsides, and mainly super tiny farms in very remote areas.
This coffee comes from a small farmer that are a member of Café Occidente Cooperative. We work alongside with exporters having coffee programs with the cooperatives targeting certain areas, groups or producers within the cooperative focusing on quality. As for all the coffee and projects we are doing in Colombia we are paying high premiums based on scores, above the daily coffee prices determined by the FNC. All our coffees have to meet our standards on moisture below 11% and scores above 86 points. We are there to cup at site many times a year, as well as we visit the producers and Cooperative to better manage the supply chain.
Café Occidente Coop in Nariño was founded on March 1, 1977 with only 50 members, located principally in the municipalities of Sandoná and Pasto. Today, it has 18 different purchasing points and eight farm supply stores in 12 municipalities of Western Nariño, including Consacá, La Florida, Linares, Samaniego, Ancuya, Yacuanquer, Buesaco, El Tambo and Chachagüí, among others. While it is constantly growing, it currently has 1,670 members, including four first place and two second place Cup of Excellence winners since 2005. In opposite to other regions in Colombia they can have extremely dry conditions during the harvest time, and humidity in the area can be low. This together with really high altitudes definitely affects the flavour profiles and make them different from any other Colombian coffees.
Coffees are picked in 3-4 passes. Meaning the producers/workers pick the more or less ripe cherries in one block. Then they might wait a few weeks until it’s again a descent amount of ripe cherries to pick in that same place. Generally the first and last pass is of lower quality, and the second and third will be considered as the best, with more ripe cherries and uniform quality. When we can, we try to buy parchment harvested in these two passes.
The coffee from Narino is generally fully washed, meaning pulped and fermented the traditional way. There is a few exceptions where farmers are using eco-pulpers with mechanical removal of mucilage, and/or are doing honeys, but it’s still not to common.
This is the most common and widely used method. The farmer will have a small beneficio, a small manual or electric pulper and a fermentation tank. They pulp the cherries in the afternoon. The coffees are going straight from the pulper in to the fermentation tank. It can sit there from one to two days, depending on the temperature. Higher temperature will speed up the fermentation process, and lower temperature will slow it down. Some producers do intermediate rinsing with water, that can also help them control the process.
Washing and grading
They normally stir the coffees in tanks or small channels before they remove the floaters. For the ones without channels it’s common to wash the coffees in the fermentation tank and skim off the floaters before it goes to the drying.
For the smallholders in regions like Huila the coffees are commonly sun dried in parabolic dryers that almost works as green houses. The better producers have well ventilated facilities. There are many different variations and constructions, but generally they are all systems that is able to protect the coffee from rain. We have generally seen that the producers that have constructions with good ventilation and manage to dry the coffee down to below 11% in 10 – 18 days often have very good and consistent coffees.