He returned 29 minutes later with 4 green coffee samples and said, “please taste them in Canada and tell me what you think”. Days later, Phil and I tasted those four samples in Canada and they were awesome. I made a commitment to purchase all of Jose’s harvest shortly afterwards.
I visited Jose in early 2015 and learned more about him. He was born on a coffee farm and first learned about coffee from his father. When he was 16 Jose decided to leave and ended up becoming a long-haul bus driver. He did this for over a decade until he decided to return home, buy the farm from his dad, and follow in his footsteps. Although he now regrets temporarily leaving the farm, he feels the time away developed a fire within him to become a better coffee producer.
Since 2015, all Jose has done is improve and reap the rewards. For me, it’s been amazing to watch it unfold. He has almost replanted his entire farm. He used to grow Tabi and Caturra, and now he has Pink Bourbon, Tabi, Ethiopia Heirloom, and Caturra. At the end of this year, he will replace his last Caturra trees with more Ethiopia trees. The trees look great – they’re not overplanted, nor deprived of natural shade.
At the time of picking, Jose uses a Brix meter to calibrate his pickers to pick optimally ripe cherries. He also has experimented with various methods of fermentation and has settled on using extended fermentations and determines end points using a pH meter. He has done some small lots using anaerobic fermentations with excellent results, but it’s proven challenging to find consistency with anaerobic processing. Him and I believe anaerobic fermentations to be the future of coffee, but the wet mill has to be properly setup to be able to process coffee this way. Otherwise, it’s inefficient and too labour intensive to do in a larger scale.
On the drying front, Jose built a large and impressive shaded drying structure with a creative curtain system to control the airflow, which is key to drying coffee well. This drying structure was one of the things that impressed me about Jose when I first visited him. He asked me what he should improve, and I suggested his drying and within a few months, he had built all this great drying infrastructure.
The results of all this work have spoken for themselves. I have loved his coffee every year more since 2015 and, in 2019, he placed 5th in the Colombia Cup of Excellence with his Pink Bourbon. This year, his Pink Bourbon was off the charts – tropical, sweet, and very quintessential Colombian. Jose is a feel good story that I am very proud to play a part of.
In June, 2016, we signed a long-term contract with Jose where we are committing to buy nearly his entire harvest at high prices. In 2023, we renewed this contract. Jose and his wife Francy were very happy, grateful, and excited for this contract. As a company who spends a great deal of money and time visiting producers, there is no greater feeling than seeing a producer happy with our business arrangement and proud to work hard to make great coffee.
This coffee was frozen immediately on its arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.