Although Tabi is seen sporadically throughout Colombian coffee farms, it’s in this small area of Palestina near Sinai that Tabi seems to be more common. The trees look a bit wild with flower/fruit separation similar to Typica trees but branches with thickness reminiscent of Timor varieties.
Our relationship with Franci began in a typical manner: on the cupping table. During my November, 2016 trip to Colombia, I cupped several coffees from Palestina and instantly fell in love with Franci’s. Her farm is similar to many Palestina farms: partially shaded, not overly planted and enjoys nice elevation around 1750m. Her processing is also very traditional; she averages around 36 hours of dry fermentation then dries the coffee on raised beds. I visited her again in June to discuss drying improvement initiatives, mainly in adding shade to slow down and control the drying process. She has since done that and her drying has definitely improved.
A bit of background on Franci’s region: Palestina. Since the advent of Juan Valdez and the Colombian marketing machine in the 1980’s, most of Colombia’s coffee producers have replanted their farms with highly productive and hearty coffee varieties. They grow these varieties in high density, removing nearly all the shade from their farms, and they use agrochemicals more frequently. In contrast, the small region of Palestina, situated in the southern part of the department of Huila, still maintains some of the coffee varieties and shade trees that gave Colombia its original coffee fame.
We started working in Palestina in 2014, and since then I have been very keen on exploring more of the region. During one of my visits in 2015, we set up a cupping with Jose Martinez’s coffee, and several other producers from Palestina. The cuppings showed the raw potential in the region. Since that time, we have worked with a small group of producers from the Jericó district: Alfonso Mateus from El Silencio district and now Franci Barrera from Sinai.
Franci’s coffee was picked in September 2017, so it’s quite fresh and vibrant. As always, we froze this coffee on arrival to further preserve its freshness.