Farm: ‘La Martinez’
Varietal: Colombia & Caturra
Altitude: 2,100 metres above sea level
Owner: Gildardo Martinez
Town / City: Paramo, Aponte
Region: Tablon de Gomez, Nariño
Gildardo Martinez Honey - Colombia
Gildardo Martinez and his family live in the Municipality of Tablón de Gomez. However, their true identity lies with the indigenous community of which they are part, which is the Inga. They are located in the towns of Aponte and Paramo, deep in the Juanambú canyon. This group belonged to the northernmost part of the Inca Empire, who colonized the south of Colombia in the late XIV century, a bit before the Spanish came. Land here is communal and its population is ruled by a “cabildo”, a group of elders that make sure that their ancestral laws and traditions are upheld.
The Canyon itself is located in the municipality of Buesaco. Although Buesaco was founded in the early 1700s, its history becomes interesting during Colombia’s war of independence. Nariño became famous as one of the few states in Colombia that sided heavily with the crown instead of the independence armies. Pasto was an important colonial town and was in the centre of commerce between Bogotá and Quito. Residents had every reason to side with peace and stability, not the change of the status quo that Simon Bolivar promoted.
After heavy fighting in different parts of Ecuador and Colombia, the Spaniards and revolutionaries eventually met in the Juanambú Canyon where steep ridges come down to meet at a small river. The fight took place on top of a thin bridge, and after heavy losses, the revolutionaries were able to beat back the Spaniards and continue their way south to finalize the battle for independence.
In true rebel form, Gildardo has processed this small lot using the honey method. This is quite unusual in Colombia, where coffee is usually pulped, fermented and washed after it’s picked. In this case, the coffee was pulped and then dried before being washed. The intense fermentation process that occurs when coffee is dried without removing the mucilage leads to a cup profile of intense red fruit.
Honey processed coffees are complicated to elaborate, as they are susceptible to defects if not dried in perfect conditions. Luckily, weather in the Aponte area is perfect for this type of drying, as the heavy and cold winds that cross the canyon permit a slow and even drying process. Coffee is dried in raised beds in a covered greenhouse and is raked regularly. To reach optimal humidity, it usually takes between 20 to 40 drying days. This slow, consistent process leads to incredibly complex cup.