Finca El Paraïso, from Ernedis Rodriguez is a beautiful farm about 12km East of the town of Gigante in Huila. This farm, “The Paradise”, is exactly at the top rim of a mountain with most of the fields facing west towards the beautiful Magdalena river valley. The farm consists of a total of 14 hectares, with abundance of Caturra, but also including 7 hectares that remain part of a Natural Reserve.
The Coffee Quest Colombia has worked closely together with Ernedis for many years, improving post-harvest processing, introducing new varieties, fermentation times, making adaptions based on cupping results.
One of the most remarkable aspects is that Ernedis treats the farm as a company. Naming it “the company” during conversation as well as maintaining a very organized coffee area. Coffee farming is often a family business and with Ernedis that is no different. He gets a lot of support from his wife and children. The family is included in the operations and his both daughters have been growing towards jobs (Quality Grader and Business Administration) within the local coffee sector in Huila.
Ernedis’ best quality is 100% Caturra, but also the Castillo lots are scoring higher every year. The coffee is processed at approximately 1804 m.a.s.l. in small solar dryers and sold as separate varieties. In the next few years his volume of Caturra is expected to increase with about 5000 trees. The new plots will reach maturation soon and improve his position to finance the daily operations of the farm.
Ernedis Rodriguez is one of our favorite farmers in Colombia. He’s young, extremely motivated to produce great coffee and easy to communicate with. We discuss ideas to experiment with different types of processing, like extended fermentations in different ways (aerobic, anaerobic, partially dry in cherry etc.) He’s always interested in working with our ideas and executes them in the best way possible.
The 7 Ha of coffee area have about 18.000 Caturra trees and 14.000 Castillo trees (which he is slowly replacing). The Coffee Quest Colombia buys all the coffee from his 7-hectare farm. We also helped Ernedis acquired several exotic varieties (Bourbon Cidra, Javanica, Typica Mejorado) to expand his varieties. During the harvest of 2021 – 2022, we started to receive these new lots from his farm.
Ernedis was present at the World of Coffee in Amsterdam 2018, when we invited him to join as part of the celebration for starting the Medellín Mill. During the fair his Caturra lot was chosen the Best Roasted Coffee, a beautiful achievement for both producer and roaster!
The coffee of Ernedis can be described as extremely sweet and with excellent balance between flavors. His Caturra lots have a friendly fruity character, but the base of the coffee has more sweetness of honey or sugar molasses. The lots we’ve bought from him are always Washed, but with extended fermentations to up to 72 hours. He dries all coffee in a shaded greenhouse on the rim of the mountain, guaranteeing good ventilation across the drying beds. Ernedis’ main harvest is from May through early July. The fly crop in his region runs roughly from mid-October to mid-December. In total he has the ability to produce roughly 175 bags of exportable coffee.
The prices paid for the coffee from Ernedis are substantially higher than the local New York C market related prices. 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 El Paraïso as improvements are consistently made.
In 2020, Ernedis invested in a “Lavador”, an Eco-pulper that uses a minimal amount of water, to both float the coffee and remove the pulp from the parchment. We see excellent results with these machines that use a combination of friction and pressure by rotation. Remarkable; Ernedis is one of the few farmers we see that recycles his coffee pulp correctly. He makes sure the pulp is captured in a basin/pool without direct contact with the soil. He is also using techniques to dry out and compost the pulp into useful organic matter.
Ernedis commented himself on a few topics (February ’20):
Water: …”I’m changing the beneficiadero right now, it’s a surprise for Stephen the day he visited. I am setting up a wet hopper. The coffee enters the hopper with water and floaters will come out. These are all the dry coffee, the sticks and the leaves. The endless screw will take the coffee up to the pulping machine. That’s what they call an ecological mill around here, because you consume very little water and you’re not contaminating the environment. It’s the honey waste water from the coffee that contaminates the most. I have never contaminated anyone’s water from my neighbours down the mountain, but it is always uncomfortable the smell. So I am controlling that to prevent inconveniences in the future and also to certify the farm in honey water management”…
…”At this moment the water that we use for washing the coffee is a local aqueduct, it comes from the mountains here in the vereda, it is very clean drinking water. That water arrives and we use it for human consumption and to wash the coffee. After we used it, the water goes through some tubes and falls into a mountain, it doesn’t contaminate any of them. But that doesn’t mean we have to trust it, that’s why I’m doing the change I told you”…
Pest Control: …”Especially the Caturra is vulnerable to the Roya (Leaf Rust), most when the Caturra trees are full and have a good flow of green coffee. All those coffee cherries demand a lot of energy and nutrients from the tree, and that’s why it is easy to get this fungus. To maintain the trees well, I have to provide good nutrition. With correct timing and giving exactly what the trees need. We work hand in hand with an agronomist, he visits us, looks at the tree and tells us the deficiencies that the tree has. He provides recommendations which we record in, what looks like a medical record for plants, and the agronomist tells us what to apply from each nutrient.
Then to maintain the tree’s condition, it’s not so much the fertilizer but the specific fertilizer that each tree needs according to its particular conditions. So the Roya keeps it under control because the tree is well nourished. However, we also make applications with a product called Amistar Xtra, which is special for Roya, it is a foliar (leaf) application”…
Compost: …”We put the waste in a pit. It’s not a mass grave, but a room with three scales of roof. All the peel and pulp goes in there, it drains, then I shovel it into the second level and then to the other one, every 8 days I’m shoveling it. Then it airs out, it drips out when I shovel it and eliminate the moisture. After it gets to the third crate, I shovel and throw it into the coffee plantations, because it is a very good organic fertilizer. We distribute it to the same crops. It takes around 30 and 60 days to dry it, if there’s summer, dry it lightly. Usually 45 or 60 days”…