Farm: Finca Los Palomos del Sur
Varietal: Caturra Chiroso
Processing: Washed, Extended fermentation. Dried on parabolic beds
Altitude: 1,900 metres above sea level
Owner: Robinson Pillimue
Town / City: Agua Blanca
Region: Inzá, Cauca
Overall: Lemongrass, pomelo, tropical fruits, lemon
Finca Los Palomos - Colombia
This very special lot was produced by Leonardo Henao from Urrao, Antioquia and has been specially selected for Mercanta by Pergamino Coffee Exporters, Mercanta’s good friend and exporting partner in Antioquia. Mercanta has worked with Pedro and Leo (director of coffee at Pergamino and the producer of this lot) for many years and has greatly supported their quality-improvement work with small producer organisations. By working with small scale producers, Pergamino and Mercanta ensure a better price for producers, as well as highlighting the work that small coffee farmers in Antioquia, Colombia are doing to improve the quality of their coffee.
Urrao is a remote municipality of Antioquia that was hard hit by FARC violence in the 1990s due to its remote location and lack of infrastructure. While the region is known for agriculture, it is less identified with coffee, and because of the remote location and the violence, the area has been slow to develop the necessary infrastructure for specialty production. With the steps towards normalisation between FARC and the Colombian Government, some small scale producers in the region have seized the opportunity and begun to make the most of their location: which presents the perfect conditions for high-quality coffee.
Many producers in the region have been heavily inspired by Jose Arcado of Finca la Falda, two-time winner of Cup of Excellence and, coincidentally, also from Urrao. Producers in the region working smaller farms than La Falda (which is still small, at approximately 10 hectares), decided that if they worked together they just might be able to improve their coffee quality so that they could access the speciality market. They succeeded! In 2014 the group achieved 3rd place in Colombia´s COE of 2014, under the name of Pablo Emilio Montoya (one of the group’s leaders), and 2 Top 60 positions in the local Best Cup of Antioquia Competition; helping continue the growing legacy of Urrao coffee.
Pedro refers to Leo as the most passionate coffee person he knows, so when Leo decided to start a farm of his own along with his family in Urrao, Pedro knew to expect great things. Using his in-depth knowledge of all things coffee, Leo is able to combine his profound respect for ancestral traditions with a detailed knowledge of coffee varieties and post-harvest processing, enabling him to produce a truly fantastic cup. At 2,100 meters above sea level, the natural location gives Los Palomos a great starting point, but the quality of coffee is entirely due to Leo and his family’s hard work.
In Los Palomos, Leo and Jorge, the farm’s administrator and longtime friend of Leo’s (pictured), cultivate different varieties but have focused primarily on Caturra Chiroso and Borbon Chiroso. Never heard of it? Well, that’s not surprising. It is a variety of Bourbon originating in Urrao that is rarely seen outside the region. The variety is characterised by an elongated cherry and is known locally for its productivity – one of the main reasons that Leo and Jorge planted in the first place.
The Chiroso variety is locally called Caturra Chiroso, the shorter version, and Borbon Chiroso, the taller type of tree. The Caturra Chiroso has been very common in Urrao for the past 30 years, grown primarily for its good productivity. Bourbon Chiroso has only recently been distinguished as its own variety, after the Pergamino team were visiting the farm of Jose Arcadio Caro, one of the original Chiroso growers, and discovered that every once in a while there were taller trees in his plantation. Pedro, Leo and the team decided to pick and separate those trees and discovered that the profile of that coffee was even more complex to the shorter version of chiroso. Although Caturra Chiroso has been produced for several years, its amazing quality was only discovered in 2012 and again in 2014 after great results in both Cup of Excellence Competitions. However, things may be changing, after this year’s competition (2020) the Bourbon Chiroso variety beat all expectations, achieving the first place prize.
From careful farming, Leo and a few other growers in the area now each have a small parcel of only Caturra Chiroso, with this year’s lots (2020) being the first lots ever produced and exported.