Farm: Los Nogales
Varietal: Tabi, Caturra & Colombia
Processing: 24 hours fermentation, dried on raised beds
Altitude: 2,000 metres above sea level
Owner: Maria Rosa Oidor
Town / City: San Antonio
Finca Los Nogales (Maria Rosa Oidor) - Colombia
Maria Rosa Oidor runs her farm, Los Nogales, with her husband Antonio Pillimué and their four children. The farm is situated a thirty minutes’ walk from the small town of San Antonio, where the couple also have a small shop. Maria Rosa and Antonio saved the money to buy their three hectare farm from the savings they made from their shop some fifteen years ago.
Today, Maria Rosa´s family is dedicated entirely to coffee. Her eldest son, Robinson, has worked as a leader of the local growers’ association ASORCAFE (to which Doña Maria belongs) a distinguished, well-known coffee producer in his own right. Her younger, Nilson, has also inherited part of the family farm and is working to learn all about coffee. Doña Maria, even at the age of 58, still takes a hike up the mountain every day to organize pickers and schedule the work for the day. She is an impressive woman, a symbol of the female coffee farmer in Colombia, who often does not received as much recognition as their "Juan Valdez" counterpart.
Despite the small size of the farm, Maria and Antonio decided to plant three different varietals in the high hills upon which their land lies: Tabi, Typica and Caturra. The high altitude of their farm (2,000 metres above sea level) makes it possible to continue growing these more susceptible cultivars despite the dangers of coffee leaf rust. Nonetheless, preparing for the future, two years ago they replanted areas of old trees with the Castillo varietal, following incentives from the Colombia’s Coffee Growers’ Federation (FNC).
The coffee trees are fertilized three times a year depending on the state and quantity of coffee on the tree, and seeds for new trees are collected and germinated on the farm itself. During the harvest, up to fifteen workers help with picking, and the family employees one permanent worker who helps maintain the crop throughout the year.
Over the years, Maria has worked hard to improve her farm, and her hard work has paid off! She works with growers’ cooperative, ASORCAFE, to improve her quality annually and now is able to commercialise her coffee on the speciality market.
ASORCAFE represents, in total, some 450 producers from across the Department. This specific lot, however, has been selected only from Doña Maria’s production. Every single producer delivering to the group has their lot cupped by the Association’s cupping lab in Pedregal. Lots scoring 85 points or more are reserved for the Inzá, Cauca microlot offered by Mercanta. However, encouraged by our partners in Colombia, Santa Barbara Estates, the group has also begun to reserve those lots that cup even higher than 85 points or that demonstrate exceptional or unique qualities. These stringent standards result in identifying very small, very special microlots, such as this one, being made available for export.
The association of coffee growers, ASORCAFE, was founded in 2004 by 10 coffee growers with an entrepreneurial spirit who were tired of private parchment buyers who were paying them below national prices. The region’s violent past, with a heavy presence of FARC guerrillas, had historically prevented the FNC (Colombia’s excellent national coffee board) and specialty-focused exporters from establishing a presence in the region. As violence has diminished, it has enabled the growers in the region to seek increased access to markets for quality, not only taking advantage of the region’s wonderful coffee-growing conditions but also the economic resource that nearby tourist destinations bring (for instance, the World Heritage Site “Parque Nacional Arqueológico de Tierradentro”). In the future, Mercanta fully expects increasingly great things in coffee from the area.