Farm: Finca La Honda & others
Varietal: Caturra & Colombia
Processing: 2 day ‘extended’ fermentation & dried on covered beds
Altitude: 2,100 to 2,200 metres above sea level
Owner: Alcaráz Family
Town / City: San Juan
Region: Caicedo, Antioquia
Familia Alcaraz - Colombia
Don Jairo is regarded as an Old-timer throughout Caicedo. When he was young, he started his life in coffee as a picker. Over the years he scrimped and saved to buy his own plot of land. At the time, the only thing he could afford was very high up in the steepest part of the mountains. He purchased the land and named it ‘La Honda’.
At the time, everyone said La Honda would be horrible for growing coffee. Tell that to his very healthy Caturra and Colombia trees today! As temperatures have risen, the climate has become warmer and more amenable to coffee, his trees have become more productive and with the added benefit of altitude and cool climate, his coffee cherries develop very slowly, making for a truly amazing cup of coffee.
Today Don Jairo farms La Honda with the help of his sons. Together they work this farm, plus some other small plots of land belonging to the family.
Jairo is a member of the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Salgar (Coocafisa), a large Colombian cooperative that represents some 3,000 growers across Antioquia. Coocafisa is one of the only cooperatives with a presence in Caicedo municipality, which neighbours Urrao: both municipalities were hard hit by FARC violence in the 1990s due to its remote location and lack of infrastructure. While the region is known for agriculture, it is less identified with coffee, and because of the remote location and the violence, the area has been slow to develop the necessary infrastructure for specialty production. With the steps towards normalisation between FARC and the Colombian Government, however, some small scale producers in the region have seized the opportunity and begun to make the most of their location.
In addition to producing his own stellar microlot, Jairo contributes towards collective lots composed of some of the best lots of producers from the Caicedo area. He works with a group of around 30 producers from Caicedo who are all Coocafisa members but who have decided to work together to improve the quality of their coffee and, thus, to access the better prices that speciality markets allow. With five other members of the Alcaráz family, Jairo and his family form one of the strongest sub-groups in Caicedo. The group is led by Algiro Alcaráz, the patriarch, and although each member has their own individual plot, they share drying capacity and help each other with any labour needed.
With the help of Santa Barbara Estates and Pergamino Coffee Exporters, Mercanta’s partner in Antioquia, the group has gone from strength to strength and has been able to engage in a long term quality improvement project. Not only has Santa Barbara committed to monthly visits to the group in order to cup and advise on quality, they have committed to purchasing all coffee produced by the group that cups at 86+ points. For this coffee, the producers receive an exceptionally high price that covers cost of production along with reinvestment in the cooperative itself and includes a specialty coffee premium once the purchased lot has been sold.
This has led, in very little time, to a transparent and consistent relationship with the group and the discovery of some amazing profiles, such as this lot offered by Jairo. Mercanta is eager to support these efforts and has regularly purchased speciality microlots from individual producers. We are proud to offer these to our market and to draw much deserved attention to these producers’ hard work, and we will continue to support the group as they strive to improve and increase their specialty production.