Farm: Finca La Heliconia
Varietal: Colombia & Castillo
Processing: Fully washed & dried on Patios
Altitude: 1,860 metres above sea level
Owner: Ramón Alexander Acevedo Saldarriaga
Town / City: Andes, Buenos Aires
Overall: Full body, dark chocolate, orange, lemon
Finca La Heliconia - Colombia
Buenos Aires, Andes lies high within the mountains of Colombia’s Antioquia department – one of the country’s most well-known coffee growing regions. The town was founded in the 1920s, partially to provide services to the sugar cane farmers and owners of ‘trapiches’ (mills for producing panela – or unrefined sugar) that formed the backbone of the economy at that time. Today Buenos Aires is small and peaceful and is renowned throughout the state as producing highly sought after coffee. Ramón Alexander Acevedo’s farm lies in the hills surrounding the town. As should be apparent in the cup, he has made the most of his natural surroundings through stringent cultivation and processing practices: they are all committed to making Buenos Aires coffee the best that Colombia has to offer.
Ramón Alexander Acevedo’s farm, La Heliconia, was purchased directly from his own father. Although he was born and raised on the farm, he didn’t really begin working in coffee until he was a bit older. La Heliconia was originally given over entirely to rearing cattle. When Ramón married in 2003, he father gifted him a small parcel of land (also now part of Heliconia) where he immediately built a house and began to plant coffee. He started with just 3,000 trees. Today he has expanded that to 9,000, all of which he cares for meticulously to produce coffee of the highest quality.
La Heliconia bears the name of Ramón’s father’s own farm, and tradition is important to him. Leydi Juliet, his daughter, is still in school and his son, Jhon Alexander, is 16 and just about to head off to college, where he plans to study electrical engineering. Although his children are still young and looking to expand their education, he hopes they carry on the same tradition that he has established. For the time, however, Ramón runs the farm with the help of his wife of 17 years, Nora Gonzalez.
Ramón has been working with the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes (Cooperandes), a regional cooperative, in order to improve his cultivation and processing practices as he realises that quality coffee is the key to quality of life for their families.
Founded in 1961, Cooperandes receives coffee from more than 11,000 smallholders living in the foothills of Antioquia’s 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 innovative 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 and an innovative micro-lot programme. 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 and an extensive scholarship program), Cooperandes is helping producers such as these producers gain more visibility on the international market and helping producers in Antioquia transform their quality of life.
This lot has been selectively harvested by hand and then pulped and fermented for between 18 and 20 hours, depending on the weather at the time. After fermentation, coffee is washed several times using clean, cool water.
After all traces of mucilage are removed, the parchment coffee is delivered to dry on parabolic beds, known locally as marquesinas. Once the coffee reaches the desired humidity (11-12%) the coffee is bagged and brought to the Cooperandes warehouse to be graded. Each lot is cupped by the expert Cooperandes quality control team, who then determine if the coffee qualifies as a ‘microlot’ to be sold on the specialty market. In this case, Ramón’s coffee was considered to be of high enough quality to be held aside as a microlot.