Farm: Finca Camelia
Varietal: Colombia & Caturra
Processing: Washed, two days mix of fermentation & dried in silos at 40 degrees
Altitude: 1,800 metres above sea level
Owner: Echavarria Family
Town / City: El Vergel
Finca Camelia - Colombia
Finca La Camelia was first acquired by the Echaverria Family more than 30 years ago and was, in fact, the first farm purchased of what is now known as Santa Barbara Estate. Its steep slopes are located in the highest section of the town of El Vergel, before the road curves down to meet the Cauca River Valley.
Santa Barbara Estate is composed of 5 sister farms (including Camelia) that lie across three neighbouring, geographical regions - Santa Barbara, Fredonia and Amagá. The family began to consolidate the farms in the 1980s, from the beginning Sr. Pedro Echavarria knew that location was crucial. Attracted by diverse microclimates, singular volcanic soils, perfect altitude and a tradition of excellence in coffee production, he established Camelia in the high Andes of Antioquia and slowly went about acquiring more land over time. By marrying these perfect natural conditions with hard work and efficiency, he quickly grew both the area under cultivation and the farm’s reputation.
In the last five years, Pedro’s son – also Pedro – has become more deeply involved in the workings of the farm, taking the already high quality of the coffee to new heights through experimentation in processing and increased monitoring and control of every stage of production. Pedro Jr. and Santa Barbara’s Coffee Director, Leonardo Henao Triana, manage their wet mill with a blend of art, industrial rigor and scientific curiosity. They are committed to further developing the Estate’s capacity for the highest quality coffee possible and have even brought their offerings to Medellin, Colombia through their flagship coffee shop, Pergamino.
Santa Barbara began working with Mercanta in 2011. In addition to supplying us with various astounding coffees, such as the ‘La Joyería’ microlot, San Pasqual Naturals and Finca Veracruz, Pedro and Leo have made Finca La Camelia available to us for the first time in 2015.
Camlia’s coffee is selectively hand harvested and then brought up to the highest part of the road using cable cars. From there, it is delivered to the family’s mill, La Joyería. Each lot is composed of two days worth of picking; the coffee picked on the second day is added to the first after 24 hours fermentation and then left to ferment in the tanks for a further 24 hours. In this method of fermentation, the second batch raises the ph level of the fermentation tank, permitting longer fermentation times without the acetic acid produced by bacteria at a lower ph level.
The mill can process up to 7,000 bags of coffee; however, the Camelia lot makes up a very small percentage of this volume. It is also stored and milled separately from the volume production.
Santa Bárbara Estate employs 60 people all year round, who on average earn 30% above the minimum wage. Half of these also receive free housing within the farm for themselves and their families. A further 1,200 pickers are hired during the main harvest, comprised mainly of farmers from around the Santa Bárbara Estate who pick coffee to supplement their income. Workers are generally long-term employees and have been with the company for more than 10 years.
The Santa Bárbara Estate also runs an extensive scholarship and financial aid program for worker’s children as well as helping long-standing employees to acquire their own piece of land upon retirement.