Farm: Finca La Chila
Varietal: Caturra & Variedad 2000 (Castillo)
Processing: Fully washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,980 metres above sea level
Owner: Gloria Patricia Restrepo Gutiérrez
Town / City: Andes
Finca La Chila - Colombia
When Glora Restrepo’s mother first purchased Fina La Chila, the farm only had 800 coffee trees and was somewhat derelict. With Gloria’s help, and later with her husband’s help, the farm slowly grew to its current size of 1.3 hectares under 4,100 trees Caturra. Considering Gloria’s significant input into the far, it isn’t a surprise that the farm passed on to her when her father passed (having inherited it from her mother), 12 years ago.
Gloria’s mother had purchased the farm from a woman named Cecilia. A common nickname for Cecelia is ‘Chila’ and, thus, the name stuck.
All of the work on the farm is accomplished by Gloria and her husband. Their 3 children (2 girls and a boy) are still school age, but they sometimes help during the harvest season or with chores on the weekend. The family lives with Gloria’s sister, as well, who helps manage the domestic aspects of the household, leaving Gloria more free to put her attention into working the land, which she has loved since she was ever since she was little. Most days she is out on the farm the whole day, working to make her coffee plot the best it can be.
The family had traditionally farmed 100% Caturra, but after the big coffee leaf rust outbreak of 2008, the family knew something had to be done. They replaced around 1,200 trees with the resistant Variedad 2000. So far the decision seems to have been the right one, enabling them to both maximise production without sacrificing cup quality. Nonetheless, they are thinking about replanting some Caturra at the beginning of 2017, despite the higher cost of production, as they know that the variety is key to continuing to improve cup quality.
Gloria has achieved many of her goals through collaboration with her cooperative – the 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. The family’s membership has contributed greatly to the Finca La Chilas’s development as a producer of speciality coffee and will hopefully help it to continue to grow despite its small size.
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 Gloria gain more visibility on the international market.
All coffee is selectively handpicked and pulped on the same day that it is harvested. The pulped coffee is then fermented for around 24 hours before being fully washed in clean water. The coffee is then delivered to the farm’s cement patios where it is regularly turned in the sun until it reaches 11% humidity.