At Veneziano we’ve been working hard to develop direct relationships with our growers at origin, so far establishing commitments with particular estates in El Salvador, Brazil and India. With Colombia being one of the largest growing regions it was the obvious next step for us.
The Colombian project is the result of a collaboration with our recent partnership with Sustainable Harvest; an Australian first. They’ve developed a relationship model with growers at origin, allowing us to connect directly with our producers and better understand the complexities and challenges they face as well as educate them on our market back in Australia. With theaverage farm size in Colombia being between one to five hectares, it was important for us to connect with larger growers to be able to secure a consistently high quality supply and better traceability.
Veneziano roaster Jack Allisey recently spent 10 days in Colombia visiting farms, getting to know the people, cupping and selecting coffee. Sustainable Harvest has introduced us to three growers we’re very excited to start working with and developing a long, mutually beneficial relationship. The three farms are:
San Fernando Estate, owner Humberto Gonzales Trujillo
San Fernando has around 200 hectares of coffee trees at an altitude ranging from 1,400 to 2,100 meters. Humberto has been farming at San Fernando since the 1970s but in 2006 he hired two new farm managers, Gabriel and Luis Guillermo, who brought a new enthusiasm for coffee.
Keen to better understand what makes a quality coffee and the processing and farming techniques behind it, they began to split the farm into separate processing lots to further understand the intricacies in flavour that their farm produces. There are two mountains on the San Fernando farm and what they found after separating out their processing lots is that the left mountain actually cups with consistently better quality than the right. These separate processing lots allow us to fine tune the flavour profile of our coffee and work to create a repeatable product.
Our first shipment due to start roasting from the start of August is from San Fernando estate and includes a delicious 20 bag microlot. We can’t wait for it to arrive and also return to the farm in October to provide feedback and start working further with Humberto, Gabriel and Luis Guillermo to fine tune our coffee in main harvest.
La Cascada, owner Correa Restrepo Hermanos
Named after the waterfall running through the farm, La Cascada was the largest farm Jack visited. Managed by Diego Moncada, La Cascada has been producing amazing coffee for years. They’ve developed an incredibly systematic approach to the growing, processing and traceability of their coffee, including taking soil samples with GPS coordinates to analyse quality and ascertain the fertilisation needs, logging rainfall and harvest periods and linking this all back to final cup tasting reports to determine what has impacted final flavour in the cup.
La Cascada also renews or replants 20 percent of their trees every year and anything over 1,600 meters is replanted with Caturra which has been producing higher quality coffees despite its susceptibility to leaf rust. As one of the biggest employers in the area with 200 employees year round, La Cascada has a strong commitment to the community, providing exceptional accommodation and dining facilities for their staff
and supporting the local church and hospital.
Las Mercedes, owned by the Guerra family
Las Mercedes manager, the young Juan Carlos, is a truly progressive coffee producer; he has set up a cupping lab on his farm and is also a qualified Q grader, which is a rarity as a lot of producers never even have a chance to taste their own coffee.
During a mule ride through the farm Jack and Juan had lengthy discussions on the challenges growers in Colombia face and why it’s important to develop sustainable relationships with roasters as end users. Juan Carlos has been experimenting with his processing technique, playing with honey process coffees and sun drying on raised beds, both a rarity in Colombia.
Juan Carlos also joined Jack during tasting. “It was great to be able to discuss the coffees with the grower directly over the cupping table and talk about what we’re looking for back in Australia; this is the true benefit of direct trade!”, says Jack.
“I’m excited to return in October and see Juan Carlos’ experimental processing in action and hopefully select some delicious microlots for Veneziano”.
We can’t wait for our first shipment from San Fernando to arrive in the next couple of weeks. Look out for it in Forza and Estate as well as the delicious limited microlot.