El Líbano is a family managed farm in the Huila region, located favorably 1900+ m.a.s.l. Henry Aldana and his family believe that the altitude creates good conditions that influence the flavors of the coffee distinctly. As part of Asociación La Victoria he is in close contact with The Coffee Quest’s Santa Maria station. His son and his daughter actively involved farm management as well as learning the farm practices.
The family have farming at El Libano for 24 years now, of which they are growing coffee for the past 21 years. Originating from a family of cattle farmers (Ganaderos), Henry, his father and 2 brothers decided to switch to coffee production using these high lands that were unoccupied.
El Líbano farm harvests twice a year, during the big ‘cosecha’ from May to July and during ‘mitaca’ fly-crop from November to January. Some years Henry and his 7 employees harvest small quantities all year around.
In addition, the finca produces year-round granadilla, sugar cane, avocado, tomate (de Arbol), yucca and have cows to produce dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.
The farm only produces only with varieties that work well in specialty coffee, Carturra and Typica, focussing on pruning instead of cutting down the full trees. Why is it important to mention? It is very rare, because usual practices tell farmers to cut down the every X years, but Henry takes really good care of them.
What’s his secret to Quality? Taking excellent care of the production process from harvest to dried beans. After harvesting the fruits, he dries them in the cherry for 24 hours before fermenting the beans in the tank for up to 48 hours. After fermentation, the fruits are pulped and then he dries the beans under his shaded ‘Marquesina’ for 20-30 days to ensure a high quality coffee, with usual cup scores ending between 85 and 86 points. His farm is high up in the mountains, the climate is quite cold and together with sun shades he is able to create a dry and controlled environment.
Henry believes the taste profiles of his coffee come from the high quality varieties, not all varieties are suitable to grow at this altitude! The effort he puts in the entire production process from harvesting (to washing and) to drying. Each hour in each step of the process can affect the quality. This is why each farm has their own secret recipe.
The prices paid for the coffee from El Líbano are substantially higher than the local New York C market related prices. Click the button for more details, the amount represents a relatively high payment for parchment coffee that is significantly better in quality. Overall we are happy to work in a dedicated partnership with Henry and his family as improvements are consistently made on El Líbano farm.
El Líbano is dedicated to get the Organic Certification and ready to takes steps to achieve this. During 2020, members of Asociación La Victoria and other farmers around Santa Maria, will initiate the transition period of 3 years to become Organic certified. The Coffee Quest Colombia has been able to secure the resources to support this transition with the help of a European roaster.
Additionally, they are concentrating on their environmentally friendly water management and re-forrestaton. Henry is a member of the preservation project to improve the ecological footprint of farms around the National Park Nevado de Huila. He has already planted almost a full hectare of native trees.
“I have also been working with Parques Nacionales for 12 years, in preservation of the forests, involved in a project of civil protectors of the forest.” – Henry commented.
Water: In terms of water management, Henry has big plans to invest in an Eco-washer, to minimize the usage of water that gets contaminated during the washing process with acidic “honey” water (miel de café), skins (cascaras) and other residues. At least 20 percent of water used on the farm comes from washing and fermentation. More than 6 liters of water per kilo of coffee during the washing process, this is why they are investing in a more eco-friendly solution.
“El Líbano also takes care of the natural water sources and creeks that are on the farm to prevent contamination, not just for this farm but also for the communities living lower, in the valley, and use these waters too.” – Henry Aldana
Organic farming: The coffee is not produced entirely organic at the moment, mainly because of the required nutrition for the soil. However, the farm is suitable for organic production and Henry is taking steps towards to get the Organic Certification.
“I have experimented with planting 700 organic Cartura coffee plants and using organic fertilizers but it cost a lot of time and effort. It took me 3 years to get the first organic harvest (which was harvested recently). I am really interested in expanding my organic production but I need more technical support, mostly training and guiding.” – Henry Aldana
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