In the heart of Antioquia, Colombia, lies a region that feels like a whispered secret among the coffee trees – Ciudad Bolivar, with a special place called Alto de los Jaramillos. This place is like a time capsule, once reverberating with the bustle of the now-extinct "Cooperativa de Andes," which used to be the lifeline for the local coffee producers as it bought and processed their cherries. The winds of change swept through, and the cooperative vanished, leaving the farmers with an uncertainty that clouded the mountain air. But, as the sun pierces through the dense Colombian foliage, hope arrived in the form of Juan David Cardona, a coffee producer from Ciudad Bolivar. With an unwavering resolve, he took it upon himself to buy and process the cherries from this mesmerizing region. An interesting twist in this tale is the bountiful availability of Naturals, with 2 to 3 containers per season just waiting to enchant your senses. The aroma of dedication and resilience wafts through Alto de los Jaramillos, as the coffee cherries find a new path to journey from the nurturing arms of Antioquia to the cups of coffee lovers around the world.
Altitude: 1500-2000 masl
Sub Region: Ciudad Bolivar
Varietals: Caturra, Colombia
Main crop: September-January
In Colombia, the cherry, which refers to the whole coffee fruit, is predominantly processed using the washing method. The process involves pulping the cherries using a manual or electric pulper, followed by fermenting the parchment (the coffee seed surrounded by its protective layer) in tanks. After pulping, the coffee is transferred to the fermentation tank and left there for one to two days, with the duration depending on the temperature. Higher temperatures accelerate fermentation, while lower temperatures slow it down. Some producers rinse the coffee during this stage to help control the temperature.
Producers often stir the coffee in tanks or small channels to remove any floaters (defective or lower-quality beans). If channels are not available, the coffee is washed in the fermentation tank, and the floaters are skimmed off before drying.
For drying, the coffee is typically sun-dried in parabolic dryers that act like greenhouses. Producers of higher-quality coffee have well-ventilated facilities to protect the coffee from rain. With proper ventilation, the coffee can be dried to around 11% moisture content in 10 to 18 days, which is considered ideal for maintaining quality, consistency, and shelf life.
On the farms where these processes take place, the cherry picking is mostly done by the farmer's family, occasionally with the help of a few hired workers. Due to the smaller size of these farms, the picking process is more manageable. The cherries are usually picked in two or three passes to ensure optimal ripeness.