Jov Coffee is a communal lot produced by a young group of coffee producers, led by Juan David Cardona and mostly based in Ciudad Bolivar and Salgar. This group was born out of the Specialty Coffee Program – Cafes Especiales de Antioquia, an initiative of the Colombian government to promote specialty coffees in the region, that ran from 2012 to 2016.
The Specialty Coffee Program was the group’s first experience of learning everything related to cupping, roasting, and preparation of various drinks. Moreover, it was thrilling enough to really sparked their interest in moving forward with the production of specialty coffees and to involve many other farmers with the same drive and determination. They partner indeed with farms in Concordia, Hispania, Fredonia, Andes, and Jerico.
Antioquia is actually the 2nd largest coffee-producing state in Colombia but mostly known for large volumes of conventional coffees. This young group saw the opportunity to make Antioquia recognized as a region of high-quality coffees. From that point on, they worked together to develop new profiles and strategies, refine processing methods, look for new markets for their coffees.
As part of the learning process, Juan David had the opportunity to travel to Brazil to visit various regions but he was most focused in Matas de Minas, where he worked very closely with Fazenda Klem. He had the opportunity to experience one of their harvests and share their knowledge about the production of specialty coffees. The collaboration r was so successful that they were able to achieve 2nd Place in the Cup of Excellence! As Naturals and Honeys are so prevalent in Brazil, much of the research and investigation was focused on these processes, and this is what led to the work of producing high-quality naturals upon his return to Colombia.
The real focus of Juan David’s team is the ongoing research on fermentation processes which has brought them to be really able to produce excellent and consistent cup quality. The goal is to reduce the hours of fermentation by using microorganisms and bacteria, without sacrificing cup quality, as well as physical decolorization of the beans.
At the very beginning, they were experimenting with a lot of things such as carbonic maceration, anaerobic fermentation, various yeasts, and bacterias, and even long fermentation – up to 300 hours. Through trial and error, they have developed processing protocols that now they use at every farm that are part of the project.
Another objective that impressed The Coffee Quest, perhaps even more than the fermentation process, is the drying stage. You might already know that Brazil and Colombia face different climate conditions (in Colombia humidity ranges between 70% and 90% throughout the day and year, contrary to Brazil where it ranges between 20% and 40% at night and it can drop to 0% during the day). Therefore, the highly wet and humid conditions of Colombia make it much riskier and more difficult to effectively dry the coffee cherries and avoid the creation of fungi that can often lead to defects in the final cup.
Taking this into account, Juan David and his team developed a standardized drying curve that they monitor along the entire process. The curve is monitored via sensors that are placed inside the mass of the cherry and when the conditions are less favorable, they will use mechanical dehydrators, but always taking into account the pre-established curve designed for shelf-life.
In addition, these young drivers of change worked to involve as many farmers as possible to develop new protocols. You must know that Naturals are fairly new to Colombia, but when a farmer has been working one way for generations, it’s difficult to convince them there is another way. However, this team developed a tool to help analyze the cherry that comes to the wet mill: when the quality is standard, farmers receive the base price, but when the quality is excellent, they receive a significant bonus for every kilo of cherry-picked.
This is our first year working with this determined group of producers, but nonetheless, The Coffee Quest is extremely excited about the harvests to come. This young team, indeed, has ambitious growth plans and are already popular in those towns where they work. Other producers, indeed, started to see the viability of their work and to realize that the way they work offers better quality and better prices for their coffee.
Juan David and his team are extremely focused on developing new strategies and protocols and they are continually working to improve on all aspects of post-harvest processes. However, they also go further than that. Thanks to the experience in Brazil, they helped farms to win places in various local and regional competitions and to understand that trials and errors are a big part of the research.
Juan David explains to us, “In Colombia, we don’t try to replicate one for one what they do in Brazil. The experience of working with them taught us that you need to understand not just the process, but the fermentation that is happening during the process. By doing this, we can understand what we need to change based on cup quality. Each farm is completely different and because of that, we need to adapt to each one.”
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