Farm: Finca La Lucha
Varietal: Caturra & Colombia
Processing: Fermented for 36 Hours, washed & sun dried
Altitude: 1,800 metres above sea level
Owner: Faustino Juanito Diaz
Town / City: Jardin
Overall: Grapefruit, lemon and thick mouthfeel.
La Lucha (Jardin) - Colombia
Finca La Lucha lies high in the hills surrounding the small town of Verdún, just outside of Jardín in Southwest Antioquia. The farm was originally purchased by the parents of current owner, Berta Buitrago. The family had worked hard to make the farm’s 7.5 hectares yield the best possible quality coffee, and when her parents passed away, leaving the farm to her, Berta knew she had to continue the work that her parents had started. The farm’s name, La Lucha (meaning ‘the struggle’) reflects the family’s struggle to work on the farm, to make it profitable and self-sustaining. Berta’s work has made sure that this struggle yields only the very best fruits.
The majority of work on the farm is done by Berta and her immediately family, who – together – mange the farm with an eye to detail and sustainability. Some 4 or 5 workers hired throughout the year to help with agricultural labours and around 10 additional workers are brought in to help with the harvests. All these workers come from Jardin or the surrounding towns. Pruning is done at a rate of 20% of the farm per year as is advised by Colombia’s National Coffee Federation. All coffee trees are stumped back at 7 years and then fully renovated after their second life span – roughly every 14 years counting the 2 life spans. Furthermore, the family used to fertilise 3 times per year but because of recent rises in the price of fertilisers, they’ve cut back to twice a year. Nonetheless they seem to be getting very good results with the reduced application and plan to continue this way for a couple of years to review the impact.
The farm is mostly planted under Castillo at this point. In the past, there were more Colombia trees, but the family had been working to replace these slowly over time with the hardier Castillo. Their nursery currently has 4,000 baby trees of Castillo waiting to be planted.
All coffee on the farm is selectively harvested by hand and then pulped and fermented for between 24 and 48 hours, with cochadas (different pickings) from different days being mixed. Each day’s picking is pulped separately, of course; however, the coffee picked on the second day is added to the first after 24 hours fermentation and then left to ferment in the tanks for a further 24 hours. In this method of fermentation, the second batch raises the ph level of the fermentation tank, permitting longer fermentation times without the acetic acid produced by bacteria at a lower ph level. This process is common among small farmers throughout Antioquia and Huila, whose farms are so small that one day’s picking is often not sufficient to make up an entire lot. While a consequence of circumstances, when done properly and with attention to detail, the process results in a distinctive, even and controlled fruit-forward cup.
After fermentation, coffee is washed several times using clean, cool water and is then delivered to dry on the farm’s concrete patios. There is no sorting during the pulping and washing processes, but once the coffee is dried, it is hand sorted to remove any beans with broca damage and/or other damaged and lower sized beans.
After reaching 11 per cent humidity, the coffee is bagged and then stored to rest for 2 weeks, after which it is taken to the Andes collecting centre for dry milling.
Berta is a passionate member of her local growers’ cooperative - the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes, through whom all her coffee is commerialised. Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes (Cooperandes), a Colombian cooperative that works in communities across Antioquia to promote and support the production of high quality coffee in the region, has contributed greatly to Berta’s development as a producer of speciality coffee.
Founded in 1961, Cooperandes, receives coffee from more than 11,000 smallholders living in the foothills of the 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 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. 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), Cooperandes is helping producers such as Berta gain more visibility on the international market.