The local presence of The Coffee Quest Colombia, allows us to strengthen the relationship with smaller producers and motivate them to continue to increase the quality of their coffee. The Coffee Quest is proud of the latest results from Giraldo station. This hidden gem of Antioquia is showing that all these coffees are able to compete with any other region of Colombia, and La Sierrita is one great example of this.
La Sierrita is our fully traceable group lot from small farmers in Giraldo. The name takes its roots in the village within the town (Vereda La Sierrita), where the majority of the producers, who contributed to this lot, have their fincas. All the supplying farms are sitting at an altitude range between 1,700 and 2,200 meters above sea level. The varieties grown by these farmers are Caturra, Colombia, and Castillo.
The Coffee Quest has started working with the producers from Giraldo because we felt there quality is underrated. We wanted to show the world that there is high-quality coffee also outside of the well-popular Colombian regions, such as Huila, Nariño, or Cauca. A difficult goal, but over these 3 years, we have seen great improvement in quality and volume. This was also possible thanks to the time spent with these producers at our stations, training them on post-harvest techniques.
Antioquia is the 2nd largest producer of coffee in Colombia, next to the region Huila, although it lacks the fame other coffee producing regions have. It is primarily comprised of large-scale farmers and cooperatives who are more focused on volumes than on quality. However, there are a few areas within the state where smallholders produce coffees that can easily compete on the cupping table. Giraldo is one of them.
What is also very interesting about this region is how high their baseline quality of coffee is. The State of Antioquia has been running a Specialty Coffee program for 4 years to promote the region and every single year, coffees from Giraldo were in the Top 10.
La Sierrita is a communal lot that reaches a consistent 85 point–quality (Type 1). The profile is stable and shows a vibrant acidity in combination with pleasant sweet milk chocolate and citric notes. This communal lot is carefully constructed. This means that every single small lot is individually cupped various times before being included within the main lot.
In addition to cup quality, each coffee must meet strict physical requirements, including our moisture content and water activity guidelines. The first time a lot is cupped is when the producer brings a sample to our buying station. Upon approval, the producer will then bring the lot down to the warehouse where it will be cupped again, taking a sample from each sack to ensure consistency. Upon final approval, the parchment coffee is packed in grain-pro and remains untouched until the entire lot is milled.
La Sierrita represents the hard work of dedicated producers who work with us because they believe in our model and values of transparency. This coffee contributes to an important part of the supply because it is a well-processed coffee that might not hit “single-farm micro-lot” quality, but nonetheless, it deserves fair payment.
As The Coffee Quest is able to buy large quantities of all ranges of qualities our farmers produce while paying fair prices, we can confidently ask producers to make adjustments in their processing. By doing this, we can reduce their concern over price volatility, offering them the option to sell different qualities to us. For this reason, we offer feedback on every single lot cupped (whether purchased or not).
Antioquia is the second biggest producing area of Colombia and is one of the first areas to have started planting coffee trees in the past. Currently, we see a mix between small and larger farmer that produce and sell coffee next to each other. In this “Classic” region we find producers willing to experiment with longer fermentation periods in their washed process. Local training at the Giraldo station allows for knowledge exchange on how to turn pulp into compost and ways to safely get rid of acidic processing waters.
The Andean mountains help bring a consistent growing climate and interesting volcanic soils. High up in the mountains the colder temperatures slow down the riping of the bean. Remarkable: The Antioquia bean is one of the densest beans we are finding in Colombia at the moment.