Farm: Finca Veracruz
Processing: Extended fermentation, washed & dried on raised beds
Altitude: 1,650 metres above sea level (avg.)
Owner: Echavarria Family
Town / City: Amagá
Finca Veracruz Geisha - Colombia
This spectacular and very small Geisha lot is the result of painstaking experimentation with microclimates and varieties conduced at Santa Barbara Estate’s Finca Veracruz.
Santa Barbara Estate is composed of 5 sister farms that lie across three neighbouring, geographical regions -Santa Barbara, Fredonia and Amagá. Established in the 1980s, from the beginning Sr. Pedro Echavarria knew that location was crucial. Attracted by diverse microclimates, singular volcanic soils, perfect altitude and a tradition of excellence in coffee production, he established a small farm in the high Andes of Antioquia. By marrying these perfect natural conditions with hard work and efficiency, he quickly grew both the area under cultivation and the farm’s reputation.
In the last five years, Pedro’s son – also Pedro – has become more deeply involved in the workings of the farm, taking the already high quality of the coffee to new heights through experimentation in processing and increased monitoring and control of every stage of production. Pedro Jr. and Santa Barbara’s Coffee Director, Leonardo Henao Triana, manage their wet mill with a blend of art, industrial rigor and scientific curiosity. They are committed to further developing the Estate’s capacity for the highest quality coffee possible and have even brought their offerings to Medellin, Colombia through their flagship coffee shop, Pergamino.
More recently, Pedro and Leo have begun experimenting with the response of new varieties to the various microclimates of the family farms. This 100% Geisha lot is one of the first of its kind from Veracruz. While the lot is very small, the first indications are very promising.
Santa Barbara began working with Mercanta in 2011 and supplies us with a variety of astounding coffees. The Veracruz lots come from one of the Estate’s smaller farms, composed of 16 hectares of coffee and a small mill. Normally each Veracruz lot is comprised of between 3 to 5 days’ picking. However, this Geisha lot has been painstakingly pulped,fermented and washed by hand to ensure the optimal quality. Every step of the process has been measured and tested to ensure the next batch is even better.
Santa Barbara has traditionally used silo drying as a reliable drying method. Parchment coffee is loaded into drying silos, which are then operated at around 60% of their heat capacity in order to slowly dry and better preserve the coffee. In silo drying, the temperature never reaches beyond 40-45 degrees, and the farms have always had an excellent result from the process. However, as part of their experimental ethos, Pedro and Leo have selected some of the Estate’s smaller farms for experimental new methods of drying out of pure curiosity for what results will be produced. At Finca Veracruz this year, the team is employing three different methods and will draw conclusions hopefully by next year.
- Drying beds made of wood and fabric under parabolic plastic. This is the traditional beds used by small farmers across Colombia.
- Drying beds made of wood and mesh under parabolic plastic. This is to improve ventilation beneath the bed of coffee and so far they have seen good results in temperature and drying times.
- Drying beds made of wood and mesh under a full roof, for shade drying.
Pedro and Leo will have the results on impact of drying, and we are looking forward to hearing what they come up with!
Santa Bárbara Estate employs 60 people all year round, who on average earn 30% above the minimum wage. Half of these also receive free housing within the farm for themselves and their families. A further 1,200 pickers are hired during the main harvest, comprised mainly of farmers from around the Santa Bárbara Estate who pick coffee to supplement their income.Workers are generally long-term employees and have been with the company for more than 10 years.
The Santa Bárbara Estate also runs an extensive scholarship and financial aid program for worker’s children as well as helping long-standing employees to acquire their own piece of land upon retirement.