A few years ago, before the father and son duo started their own processing, Gelbert knew that the farm had incredible potential, but he couldn’t convince his father to invest in mounting their own mill. So Gelbert used his own savings to purchase all of the processing equipment without Macho’s knowledge and presented it to him, saying, “Here dad, now there is no risk. Let’s do this”. So, in 2011, Macho and Gelbert processed their own coffee for the first time.
I first visited Macho & Gelbert in December of 2012, and I left inspired and full of optimism. Gelbert has taken cupping, barista, and roasting courses. He cups all of his coffee, looking for indications as to what is working at the farm and the mill. He is relentless about improving his coffee; a quality that we look hard to find in a producer.
Gelbert’s coffee picking system is an example of an innovative approach to improving quality. Most good producers pay a small premium on the nationally imposed minimum wage. Gelbert has implemented a system where he is paying 35% more than minimum wage and offers a weekly prize to the cherry picker who picks the lots with the least number of defects. This program has resulted in a great improvement in overall coffee quality and job satisfaction among the pickers.
This particular lot comes from Finca Macho, the family’s best farm. It was fully de-mucilaged, then soaked under water for 24 hours, then washed, and finally dried on shaded raised beds for nearly 20 days. The additional day of soaking weakens the parchment layer protecting the coffee, underlying the importance of drying in the shade. Drying this style of coffee in the sun can result in extensive damage to the parchment, which will inevitably result in poor and uneven drying for the coffee.
Gelbert and I worked together over the past five years to dry this coffee in the shade, extending the drying time from the typical 7 days to the 20 days mentioned above. When I tasted this coffee in Costa Rica during the harvest, he instantly recognized it for its floral and tropical profile.
This green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.