Farm: Finca El Cedro
Varietal: Caturra, San Bernardo and Colombia
Processing: 36 hours fermentation, fully washed & dried on parabolic beds
Altitude: 2,050 metres above sea level
Owner: Francisco Cuchimba
Town / City: San Antonio
Region: Inzá, Cauca
Overall: Cola, bergamont, peach ice tea
El Cedro (Francisco Cuchimba) - Colombia
This microlot was produced and processed by Francisco Cuchimba, a smallholder member of the ASORCAFE - Inzá, Cauca producer group. In the world of specialty coffees, the individual farmer is typically highlighted. It is important to remember, however, that for smallholder farmers, growing coffee is almost always a family effort. This principle is exemplified in this small, speciality lot. Truly, the credit belongs not only to Francisco but also to his entire family, who have been growing coffee in their small farm, El Cedro, in Inzá, Cauca for over 40 years.
After travelling an hour by a mule track from the town of San Antonio, crossing several boggy and grassy paddocks, one reaches the Cuchimba family home, with a smoky chimney and a couple of beautiful roosters in the front garden. The roosters hold their heads high, as if they were guardians of a great treasure.
Dona Marcelina, the matriarch of the family, often sits on the small terrace, manually shaking and sorting the coffee to separate the good beans from the defective ones. The family’s efforts to ensure the best quality coffee are substantial and every person plays a part.
Don Francisco and his family have their efforts validated through their producer organisation, ASORCAFE (Asociación de Productores de Café del Oriente Caucano). They have joined the organisation in hopes of reaching speciality markets around the world. With the advice and support of ASORCAFE, their coffee quality has finally received recognition through inclusion in the association´s micro-lot program.
ASORCAFE represents, in total, some 450 producers from across the Department. This specific lot, however, has been selected only from the Cuchimba family’s production this year. Every single producer delivering to the group has their lot cupped by the Association’s cupping lab in Pedregal. Lots scoring 85 points or more are reserved for the Inzá, Cauca microlot offered by Mercanta. However, encouraged by our partners in Colombia, Santa Barbara Estates, the group has also begun to reserve those lots that cup even higher than 85 points or that demonstrate exceptional or unique qualities. These stringent standards result in identifying very small, very special microlots, such as this one, being made available for export. Producers who achieve microlot status also receive very good premiums based on the price their coffee earned.
The association of coffee growers, ASORCAFE, was founded in 2004 by 10 coffee growers with an entrepreneurial spirit who were tired of private parchment buyers who were paying them below national prices. The region’s violent past, with a heavy presence of FARC guerrillas, had historically prevented the FNC (Colombia’s excellent national coffee board) and specialty-focused exporters from establishing a presence in the region. As violence has diminished, it has enabled the growers in the region to seek increased access to markets for quality, not only taking advantage of the region’s wonderful coffee-growing conditions but also the economic resource that nearby tourist destinations bring (for instance, the World Heritage Site “Parque Nacional Arqueológico de Tierradentro”). Mercanta has heavily invested in the program and fully expects increasingly great things in coffee from the area.