Our second Colombian community coffee this season, that we have sourced with the help of Caravela Coffee. Please enjoy this AA iteration of La Magdalena, composed of outturns from 12 producers in and around Pitalito.
The Farmers & Their Approach
Coffee from 12 different families has been blended together to create this 25-bag lot of La Magdalena, all of which have passed strict quality criteria. The coffee varieties being grown are typical for the region, being Caturra, Castillo and Variedad Colombia, typically planted amongst Plantain and Walnut shade trees. It has been a few years since we last roasted coffee from these producers, but we’re thrilled to have been able to secure another fantastic lot from them.
Nearly 20% of the collated lot has come from a producer named Luis Carlos Guzmán, from whom we have cupped some more experimental, extended fermentation samples this year. He has tended to coffee on his farm El Diviso for the last 19 years, having learnt about coffee cultivation from his grandparents.
Regarding life as a coffee producer, Luis has said the following:
”I dedicate myself to coffee farming, because of my grandparents, they are the ones who transmitted to me the dedication and love for coffee. I have been a coffee producer since 2003 … For me the cultivation of coffee is a tradition that comes from my grandparents to my parents, they have instilled in me this wonderful crop”.
Around 10% of the lot was produced by Wilfredo Ule Vargas. His family farm, Finca Alcatraz, is located in Oporapa, Huila. The family has cultivated coffee here for the last couple of decades, consciously shifting into specialty coffee production after the first eight years, and dedicating a third of the farm to native forest protection. Having gone on to win awards at the cup of excellence in 2011 and 2019 they also won 1st place in the 2018 Latin American Green Awards in the Social & Eco-Friendly Projects category.
Coffee production in Colombia in 2022 has been troublesome and expensive, with less impetus for producers to undertake the special preparations that specialty quality coffee requires. This is in part due to a large increase in their own costs of production, as well as the market price for commodity coffee increasing. Thankfully due to a long-term, trusting relationship between Caravela and their producing partners we have still been able to purchase high quality coffees, albeit at a much higher price than in previous years. When we first tasted this sample of La Magdalena on the cupping table it displayed notes of raisins, peaches, cocoa, raspberries, plums, oranges, caramel and cooked apples, ultimately a coffee that we deemed very complex and very fruity, whilst still being clean and structured
Typically, Caravela operate an 80/20 model, working with a vast majority of smallholders and a minority of farmers with large coffee estates. In their 2021 impact report 87% of their producing partners had farms of less than 5 hectares in size. More than half of the producers they worked with were visited by their PECA team, and in Colombia alone they are working with 1,746 producers across 52 communities.
As regards their PECA program, they have said the below:
“Coffee growers are the heart of our business model, without them we could not maintain and sustain this value chain. They are responsible for producing the best coffees that delight us every day. The Coffee Growers Education Program (PECA) has developed a symbiotic relationship between coffee growers and Caravela since we’re always learning from each other. For many years, we have accumulated experiences throughout experimentation and work that provides tools to empower and educates coffee growers, resulting in consistent high-quality coffees.”
Pitalito, Huila, Colombia
Flavours of molasses, red grape and syrup sponge make for a complex espresso. The aftertaste is very persistent, like high quality dark chocolate.