Farm: Finca El Mango
Varietal: 100% Castillo El Rosario
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried on patios
Altitude: 1,910 metres above sea level
Owner: Rafael Ángel Jaramillo Jaramillo
Town / City: Ciudad Bolivar
Finca El Mango - Colombia
Rafael Ángel Jaramillo Jaramillo inherited Finca El Mango from his father some 15 years ago and pretty much grew up farming coffee. “Even before the farm was mine, I had always worked on it, helping my father since I was around 12 years of age” says Don Rafael who is now 63 years old and has been living in this very farm since his early 20s. He and his wife, Amanda Gañan, married more than 43 years ago, and although their 4 daughters are now all married and have homes of their own, they and their husbands live nearby and help maintain the farm, working with Raphael to produce the best possible quality coffee. They help with weeding and fertilisation and all renovation activites.
Raphael and Amanda have established around 8,000 trees of Castillo Rosario on his small 1.3 hectares. The variety is one of the 7 locally adapted varieties of Castillo developed by Colombia’s coffee research centre (Cenicafé) and is well suited to the altitude and local climate. The couple also “grow plantain - but only for personal consumption....and to give to my neighbour and his family” adds Don Rafael. When Don Rafael’s father purchased the farm there were also two large mango trees, from which the farm acquired its name.
Finca El Mango lies around an hour from the house where Don Rafael lives with his wife; however, the mill is located near the home. During the harvest season, freshly picked cherries must be transported over two small hills to get from the plantation to the mill. The journey takes between 45 minutes to an hour depending on how much cherry is being carried. This means that the whole family has to come together during the harvest season, with everyone pitching in to help. Picking is usually gathered and transported toward the end of the day, with all pulping being conducted at 4 or 5 pm in the afternoon. After pulping on the small mechanical pulper, the coffee is fermented in tanks from 18 to 24 hours. Amanda is in charge of overseeing the washing and does all the raking of the coffee herself, after it is delivered to the marequesinas (parabolic dryers).
Don Rafael plans to invest in a mechanical dryer in the coming months as 2016 will see all of his 8,000 trees in production for the first time. Their current crying infrastructure (a single marquesina) is simply not sufficient to dry the expected volume.
Don Rafael and Amanda, like so many producers across the region, face rapidly increasing cost of production among other challenges, including an aging workforce. They recognise that the only way to get ahead is to invest in and improve the quality of their production. Luckily, the cooperative to which they belong - Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes (Cooperandes), a Colombian cooperative that works in communities across Antioquia to promote and support the production of high quality coffee in the region – shares this goal with them. Their membership has contributed greatly to the small farm’s development as a producer of speciality coffee.
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 Rafael gain more visibility on the international market.
With the help of Cooperandes, Rafael is continuously learning best practices needed to improve cup quality and has been greatly assisted by the cooperative in this goal. To our knowledge, this is the first time that Finca Finca El Mango has reached the speciality market under its own name, and we are proud to support Rafael and the Coop in their quest to bring the best of Antioquia to the world.