Little tangent - Ratibor Hartmann has introduced me to some great coffee producers in other countries - so far he has a perfect record. So last year when I was speaking with him on the phone and on my way to Ecuador and he said “you have to meet Pepe”, I immediately asked for an introduction and began working with Pepe.
Jose “Pepe” Jijon has a farm called Finca Soledad in the Intag Valley, in the north of Ecuador. The land in the relatively unexplored Intag valley is very dramatic - lush hills, massive cliffs and ridges - it’s very cool! He began planting coffee there in 2010 with the main goal of reforesting the farm. The farm is 120 hectares mainly of protected or replanted forests. Pepe grows coffee in only five hectares, focusing on Sidra, Typica Mejorado, and Gesha. Here’s some words from Pepe about their philosophy:
“Our philosophy embraces our respect and understanding of the silent language of nature. We aim to transform our coffee fruits into happy beans. In our processes we try to cause the least amount of stress to the living embryo so that when finally roasted it shines, it brings synergy to the cup and happiness to the responsible consumer.”
Pepe deeply cares about his workers, he is committed to offering a sustainable workplace by ensuring they have access to health care and they pay the highest wages in the region. I have learned that having happy workers at the farm is essential to achieve top quality.
OK, so let’s go over the processing of this coffee. The cherries were carefully hand selected with an average sugar content of 22 brix. They were then placed (without washing or floating) on an open tank for 48 hours. The reason for not washing or floating is to preserve the natural yeasts in the coffee, allowing for a better fermentation. The coffee is then de-pulped and fermented for another 48 hours in mucilage. The coffee is then rinsed (not fully washed) and slowly dried for about 30 days. Pepe dried using only indirect sunlight and extended times to preserve the embryo.
Thank you Pepe for crafting such a tasty coffee!