Farm: Finca El Chocho
Varietal: Caturra & Colombia
Processing: Fermented for 24 Hours, washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,800 metres above sea level
Owner: Juan Crisostomo Marin
Town / City: Jardin
El Chocho (Jardin) - Colombia
Juan Crisostomo Marin and his wife, Margarita Lopez Diaz, purchased Finca El Chocho in 1983. When they first married (nearly a decade earlier), they had agreed that their wedding present to themselves would one day be to buy their own farm and that they would finally stop working on other peoples farms as labourers. Buying El Chocho, named after the ‘Chocho’ (Ormosia var.) tree that grows near the farm’s patio, was the realisation of that joint project, and the couple have never looked back since.
They have since joined up with the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes (Cooperandes), a regional cooperative whose microlot program has helped transform Antioquia’s coffee industry, and have managed to develop a very high quality coffee with the coop’s help. Truly, the farm is an equal partnership. Doña Margarita attends the regular trainings that Cooperandes holds and is widely recognised as a leader in her town. Don Crisostomo (as he is called locally) conducts most of the work on the farm, along with his son, who helps with every task. Together, the family has worked hard to make the farm the very best it can be, and they have even succeeded in gaining Fair Trade certification for the farm. The earnings have been enough that Don Criostomo’s daughter has been able to continue her studies.
After recently placing in the top 60 in a regional coffee quality competition, the family feels that they have realised many of their dreams. They can only surpass these in the future!
All coffee at El Chocho is hand harvested, sorted to remove any underripe or damaged cherries and then pulped on the same day it is picked. Coffee is fermented in tanks for around 36 hours and afterwards is washed in cool, clean water. It is finally delivered to dry on parabolic beds under the sun. These parabolic beds, known locally as marquesinas – which are constructed a bit like ‘hoop house’ greenhouses, with airflow ensured through openings in both ends – both protect the parchment from rain and mist as it is dried and prevent condensation from dripping back on the drying beans.
After reaching 11 per cent humidity, the coffee is bagged and then stored to rest for 2 weeks, after which it is taken to the Andes collecting centre for dry milling.
Founded in 1961, Cooperandes receives coffee from more than 11,000 smallholders living in the foothills of the Eastern Colombian Mountain range. Smallholder farmer members within the cooperative’s area of influence benefit from exceptional agro-ecological conditions that are ideal for growing coffee, and Cooperandes has funded multiple initiatives to improve lives and quality of production for their members – including ‘coffee stores’ to facilitate access to crop inputs such as fertiliser and pest controls. Through the cooperative’s technical assistance and support (for instance, an educational program to create opportunities for the youth that they have established in partnership with the University of Antioquia), Cooperandes is helping producers such as Don Crisostomo and his family gain more visibility on the international market.