Farm: Finca La Julia El Tapado
Varietal: Caturra, Castillo, Colombia
Processing: Dry-pulped, washed and sun dried on ‘marquesinas’ (covered patios)
Altitude: 1,850 metres above sea level
Owner: Jesús María Posada
Town / City: El Tapado, Jardín
Finca La Julia El Tapado - Colombia
Finca La Julia lies at around 1,850 metres above sea level in the steep green hills surrounding the small town of El Tapado, near Jardín in southwestern Antioquia. The farm is owned and managed by Jesús María Posada and his wife Olga Restrepo, whose two teenage children attend the local high school.
La Julia extends over 6.5 hectares, 4.5 of which are planted under coffee. Although Jesús and Olga are gradually sowing varietals resistant to coffee leaf rust that have been developed by Colombia’s coffee research centre (Cenicafé) - namely Castillo and Castillo Rosario – the couple are intent on preserving their Colombia and Caturra trees alongside. The diversity of trees give them options for the future!
Coffee has been an enduring passion for Jesús: when asked how long he has been working in coffee and farming at his finca, Jesús answers, “All my life”. Jesús’s coffee trees are worked in seven year cycles - the last five years of which are productive years. The trees are then heavily pruned and take two years to re-establish before yielding another crop. The farm’s soil is regularly analysed and a fertilisation schedule is planned accordingly. The trees are then fertilised o average three times annually.
The main harvest on the farm takes place from October to December, with a smaller fly crop (mitaca) in April and May. Around 60% of the farms’ production comes from the main harvest, with the remaining 40% yielded during the mitaca. The farm employs seven temporary workers during harvest months; for rest of the year, Jesús and Olga take care of all of the farm work themselves.
The farm’s cherries are picked by hand when fully ripe and then processed at a low water ecological mill. The cherries are dry-pulped and then dry fermented (with no water added) in tiled tanks for a maximum of 18 hours. The beans are then washed using fresh water and dried on ‘marquesinas’ - patios with plastic or glass roofs to protect them from rainfall - until they reach the optimum humidity.
Jesús is a passionate member of his local growers’ cooperative - the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Andes - and is very interested in studying advances in agronomy and techniques to maintain coffee quality. 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 Jesús’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 Jesus gain more visibility on the international market.
As an aside, Jesús ACTUALLY was born on December 25 (admittedly in 1955/56) and lives very near the town of Belen (which translates to Bethlehem in Spanish). So when we say that this coffee is just shy of miraculous ... well, we may just be serious!