Farm: Various small farms
Varietal: Primarily Caturra
Altitude: 2,100 meters above sea level on average
Owner: Various smallholder farmers
Town / City: Aponte
Region: Tablon de Gomez, Narino
Aponte Honey - Colombia
This very special honey lot hails from the town of Aponte, in the optimal coffee growing lands of Colombia’s Nariño department. The coffee is a result of the perfect marriage of altitude, climate, and persistent hard work by various small farmers living nearby the town – individuals such as Luz Chasoy and Gildardo Martinez, whose microlots have graced Mercanta’s offer lists in the past. Most of the growers here are very small scale and sometimes single lots are too small to sell as under their own farm name. This means that blending into a community lot is the only option to place these on the specialty market. This speaks to the potential of blending to create a product that is more than the sum of its parts! The Aponte Honey blend is unique and represents the very best that these small holder farmers have to offer.
The town of Aponte is located near Buesaco, and most of the growers there are part of the Inga community, an indigenous community that was once a part of the northern-most reaches of the Inca Empire before the Spaniards colonised the area. The region is characterised by a very high average altitude - around 2,100 meters above sea level - and beautiful scenery, with mostly Caturra planted across the hills. The town of Aponte, itself, has suffered great damage since 2016 due to its location almost squarely on a seismic fault. The townspeople have been reconstructing the town slowly over the past couple of years.
Aponte itself is located in the municipality of Buesaco. Although Buesaco was founded in the early 1700s, its history becomes interesting during Colombia’s war of independence. Nariño became famous as one of the few states in Colombia that sided heavily with the crown instead of the independence armies. Pasto was an important colonial town and was in the centre of commerce between Bogotá and Quito. Residents had every reason to side with peace and stability, not the change of the status quo that Simon Bolivar promoted.
After heavy fighting in different parts of Ecuador and Colombia, the Spaniards and revolutionaries eventually met in the Juanambú Canyon where steep ridges come down meet at a small river. The fight took place on top of a thin bridge, and after heavy losses the revolutionaries were able to beat back the Spaniards and continue their way south to finalize the battle for independence.
Honey processing is quite unusual in Colombia, where coffee is usually pulped, fermented and washed after it’s picked. In this case, the coffee was pulped and then dried before being washed. The intense fermentation process that occurs when coffee is dried without removing the mucilage leads to a cup profile of intense red fruit.
Honey processed coffees are complicated to elaborate, as they are susceptible to defects if not dried in perfect conditions. Luckily, weather in the Aponte area is perfect for this type of drying, as the heavy and cold winds that cross the canyon permit a slow and even drying process. Coffee is dried in raised beds in a covered greenhouse and is raked regularly. To reach optimal humidity, the process usually takes around 30 drying days. This slow, consistent process leads to incredibly complex cup.