This was my first visit to San Sebastian de la Plata in Huila, Colombia, an area that Olympia Coffee has been purchasing coffee from and visiting every year for the last four years. Seeing it first hand I was struck by the beauty of the landscape, how massive the country is and how small the farms are. Most of the farms we work with are only two hectares (about 5 acres) in size, with most of the work being done by the family that owns the farm. We work with a handful of farms using a transparent buying program that rewards quality production. We cup and score every coffee using the Specialty Coffee Association of America protocol. We agree to purchase coffees that score above 86 points at premium and pay even higher prices for higher scoring coffees. Below is a profile of three of the farms we work with in San Sebastian de la Plata.
Saravena is a two hectare farm owned by Carmen Quinto. It is early in the season, but Carmen has already produced several 86+ lots of coffee that will be in our San Sebastian Reserva this fall. Saravena is located at 1600m above sea level. Carmen lives in the farm house with her son Enrique and daughter Carmelita. Carmen grows primarily Caturra and small amount of typica. Carmen seperates lots based on section of her farm. She has two small tiled fermentation tanks were they do a 24 hour fermentation without the use of water, then they give the coffee a three hour soak and rinse it clean. From there it is moved to her parabolic dryer. The dryer on her farm was built in 2006 with the support of US AID and Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. Having the raised beds and parabolic drier has enable Carmen to receive better prices for her coffee by producing 86+ lots, ultimately resulting in a better quality of life for her and her family.
La Esperanza is a two hectare farm owned by Isidro Silva Claros. Isidro is the leader of a small coop that shares processing equipment. Isidro grows 100% caturra at 1700m above sea level. His farm is lush and the coffee trees are shaded by guava and other tropical fruit trees . He employs composting and organic fertilization, and sprays his coffee trees with soap to combat coffee leaf rust. Isidro is new to working with Olympia Coffee and he has already produced the highest scoring coffee we've tasted from Huila this year. This micro lot will be sold under his name this fall.
Santa Martha is Pablo Zuniga's farm located at 1800m above sea level. This is our third year working with Pablo Zuniga. Of the farmers we work with in Huila, Pablo is our most consistent producer of micro lots. Pablo started out his career in coffee as a picker working on other peoples farms and saved his money to purchase his own farm. Last year Pablo purchased a portion of an adjacent farm expand Santa Martha to three hectares. All of the work done on Pablo's farm is done by him and his family.