Farm: El Retiro
Processing: Washed, fermented for 48 hours and dried on raised beds under plastic
Altitude: 2200 meters above sea level
Owner: Gustavo de Jesus
Town / City: El Hato
Region: Caicedo, Antioquia
Overall: Depth, black currant, red apple, blackberry
Familia Rivera - Colombia
The unique geological location of El Hato, one of the highest areas of Caicedo, Southwestern Antioquia, is surprising to some, where Gustavo de Jesus decided to settle and raise his family.
More than 40 years ago, Gustavo decided to purchase a cheap plot of land to begin producing coffee of his own. The land which Gustavo decided to name El Retiro, meaning “the retreat” in Spanish, was particularly inexpensive, as, at the time, it was said that due to its staggering altitude of 2200 masl, it was impossible to grow coffee there. Try telling that to its extremely healthy Caturra trees there today!
Gustavo owes his success partly to the steep ravines that drop down from El Retiro to the Cauca River. Here, warm currents are trapped, causing hotter air to rise and circulate to a higher altitude than in the rest of the region. This is partly why it is thought to be possible for coffee to be grown at such a high elevation. As temperatures have risen, the climate has become warmer and more amenable to coffee. Not only has this meant that the trees have become more productive, the mix of high altitudes and cool climate means that the coffee cherries develop very slowly, resulting in a truly amazing complex cup of coffee. These factors have meant that today, El Retiro is regarded as somewhat of an institution in coffee growing in El Hato.
Today, Gustavo takes care of the farm with his two eldest children, Over and Duvan. Both Over and Duvan have been given their own lots to manage at El Retiro, growing and producing coffee alongside their father. The Riviera Family have remained committed to the variety that they have grown since the very beginning, Caturra, as Gustavo believes that it grows best at a cooler temperature than other variety’s, such as Colombia and Castillo. Due to the farms incredibly high altitude, the Caturra trees are also protected from La Roya, otherwise known as Leaf Rust, a parasitic fungus that infects coffee plants, and can be devastating to farmers’ crops.
Coffee is not the only thing the Riviera Family are renowned for in their neighbourhood. They make the most amazing Sancocho (pictured), a soup common throughout Colombia. The Antioquia version of this, which tends to take almost all morning to make, is more yellowish and made with chicken and beef, instead of just Hen, common in Cauca and Huila. This is a definite must-have for any visitors to the farm!