Roaster's tasting notes
Custard, Tinned Fruit, Sugar Syrup, Watermelon, Juicy.
Humberto Pecupaque and his wife Alba Zuleta are the proprietors of Finca El Diamante in Gaitania, Tolima, Colombia. Their farm is situated in the Nasa We'sx indigenous reserve, a sovereign territory within Colombian borders administered by native authorities, allowing the indigenous worldview and values to dictate community life, education and trade.
Humberto’s life story should probably be the subject of a book. He spent his childhood in the indigenous reserve where he now lives and works, but was displaced by armed conflict as a child, leaving him orphaned and trying to scrape by on the other side of the central mountain range in Corinto, Cauca. He took the only job that allowed him to survive at the time, in illicit agriculture. In Corinto, he met his wife, Alba, who is just as much a part of Finca El Diamante as he. (It's actually divided in two parcels and titled to each of them respectively.) They desired a different environment for their young children to grow up in, so they returned to Tolima and purchased a small farm in Planadas, then later moved to the indigenous reserve of Humberto's childhood. Since then, he has been active in community organizing, representing the indigenous community to the outside world, including politically. He is an important bridge for the community, speaking perfect Spanish while much of the community does not, and understanding non-indigenous society, politics and trade.
Understanding the risk implied in alternative coffee growing techniques and the potential reward they can provide, he has elected to invest heavily and take great risks with the goal of improving producer income in the reserve. He has constructed immense drying structures and replanted half of the farm with prized delicate coffee varietals in order to test whether any of them could work well in the reserve and provide an economic impulse so that the others don't have to take the same risk. Just as these plants were coming into their first season of full production, he suffered a terrible accident, falling from a cable car high over a ravine, suffering severe trauma, whilst being several hours by motorbike from the nearest hospital. He was in a coma for some weeks, totally paralyzed for several more, and for the last 6 months has been slowly recuperating.
Humberto's wife, Alba, returned to the farm alone and found the wet mill ransacked. She faced the challenge with determination, grace, and strength, a combination that can only be described accurately in local vernacular as "berraquera." Using a kind of coded treasure map, the results of several seasons of processing experiments with Cedro Alto, she has been able to keep the cup profile consistent, rebuilding most of what was lost, and continuing to move the project forward. With this year's quality premiums, the family plans to continue to improve by planting additional native shade trees in the coffee plots and build lombriculture (worm composting) chambers to further reduce productive dependence on the commercial monetary economy.
The Pecupaque Zuleta family are a shining example of what is possible if one is able to observe and internalize market realities while staying true to one's own values and community. Despite immense difficulties and setbacks, they have never compromised and honored commitments and friendships. We are grateful to Langdon for introducing us to this remarkable family and hope that we can continue to honor and communicate their achievements with others, and continue to learn from their example ourselves.
Finca El Diamante is situated 1800m above sea level and cultivates not only the more commonly grown Caturra and Castillo varietals found elsewhere in Colombia, but also a more adventurous selection of varietals including San Bernardo, Pacamara, Tabi and the Pink Bourbon presented here. Pink Bourbon is a hybrid resulting from a cross between Red Bourbon and Yellow Bourbon. Farmers are impressed by its cup quality, resistance to leaf rust and low dependence on fertilisers, but as of now is still only sparingly grown by farmers in Colombia.
Humberto is part of a larger collective of indigenous farmers in the Gaitania region who have teamed up in a spirit of cooperation to challenge the traditional coffee supply model in Colombia. The key idea is that an indigenous farmer in the collective be given access to an international roaster willing to pay sustainable prices for a superior product. The farmers are helped in this endeavour by the non-farming team of Karl Wienhold, Julio Bastidas and Alan Smith, who handle post-production aspects including final quality control, roaster support, logistics, marketing and access to international roasters. Together, they form the Cedro Alto Collective.
It is remarkable that within the space of a few years, 75 of the individual farms within the collective have been able to achieve Organic certification as part of the collective’s initiative to raise quality. Another feature of the coffees from this collective is the incredible level of financial transparency on offer and which we present below. The end-user of this coffee can easily observe how buying this coffee from us directly benefits the community that grows it, as opposed to a lot of coffee grown as commodity crop, which rarely provides a meaningful economic existence for farmers.
Green Coffee Equivalent in GBP
Finca El Diamante Farmgate price £3.64 / kg
FOB price £4.57 / kg
Amoret buying price from LCM £6.15 / kg
v Commodity Coffee price FOB £1.90 / kg !
In the cup, this is a refined experience. A classic example of a quality washed process coffee from Colombia, with the Pink Bourbon varietal making its presence felt through added sweetness on the palette and floral complexity in the dry aroma. Sweet, clean, approachable and easy-going, a delightful custard sweetness and nose gives way to fruit trifle, with a juicy watermelon finish on the cool. Fantastic as an afternoon pour over or just when the mood takes you. Available in limited quantities only and sure to soon run out.
Organic Certification: CO BIO 169
Cedro Alto Collective : https://cedroaltocoffee.com/about/
Sourced by Langdon Coffee Merchants