The territory they call home is called Guambia, situated at the foothills of the Central Cordillera right in the backbone of Colombia within the Andes. Thanks to the towering peaks and volcanoes – this region has a plentiful source of water in addition to ideal microclimates for the slow development of coffee. Cauca is known for its rich volcanic soils and prime weather conditions for coffee production. Additionally, Cauca has been able to preserve its indigenous culture and tradition with respected tribes and communities still working to produce high quality coffee.
Primarily growing Castillo, the 500 or 00 families this coffee comes from are located in two zones: the Rural Zone and the Indigenous Zone around the town of Silvia.
This coffee is purchased and exported by our partners at Condór, who collect the coffee and process it at the mill in Popayán, the capital of Cauca. Here, the coffee is hulled and assessed for quality prior to being exported.
Producers in this region also grow plantains, argum and sugarcane, providing the coffee with shade and giving producers a more diversified income. Diversifying income is important, especially since transportation and picking costs have increased. Producers utilize natural fertilizers such as coffee pulp to fertilize the soil – thus reducing environmental impact by relying less on chemical fertilizers.
As each producer carefully hand picks his or her coffee – the cherries are placed into a tank of clean water whereby floating cherries are removed to ensure quality is maintained. Pulping then occurs on each farm via machine and is the process where the external skin is removed from the seed. Fermentation begins next as the exterior mucilage is slowly broken down prior to drying. Drying is then completed in the open sun.
Colombia is the third largest coffee-producing country in the world, and thanks to its vast array of unique microclimate, are able to have harvests throughout the year.
Commercial coffee cultivation began in the mid-1830s and spread so rapidly that throughout the twentieth century coffee already became the country’s leading export. A mountainous topography and many tropical micro-climates contribute greatly to Colombia’s reputation for ideal growing conditions, which – in turn – have helped Colombia establish itself as a recognisable origin around the world.
The diversity of coffee and profiles found across Colombia is enormous and coffee is harvested practically year-round depending on the region. The main harvest takes place from October to February with November and December being the peak months. There is also a second fly (or ‘mitaca’) crop several months later, again varying by region and microclimate.