This lot was grown and processed by 8 independent farmers who own small farms located around the town of Aponte, in north-western Nariño, Colombia. The town is incredibly remote and hard to reach, as it is found deep inside Juanambú Canyon and surrounded by steep, rugged mountains.
The farms in the region are tiny – averaging just 1 hectare – and are some of the highest situated coffee farms in Colombia, with most sitting above 2000 meters above sea level. The producers who grow coffee around Aponte are pioneers in developing farming and processing techniques to successfully produce coffee in such unique conditions.
The town is home to the indigenous Inga people and was once the northernmost point of the Incan empire. Visiting Aponte is a unique experience; the town operates as an indigenous reserve, independent from the Colombian government. On the streets, people continue to wear traditional garments and to speak to each other in the local Inga language, a dialect derived from Quechua (the pre-colonial language of people from the Amazons and the Andean Mountains).
In Aponte’s society, there is no such thing as private property and farms are owned by the community at large. Town leaders, or ‘Taitas’, have the final say on how each parcel of land is cultivated. Coffee has gained approval from Aponte’s Taitas due to two major factors: it is a relatively profitable and stable crop, and it prevents bigger parcels of land from being used for coca cultivation.
Producers in Aponte have become experts at ‘honey’ processing. For this lot, coffee cherries were carefully hand-picked, with several passes needed to ensure only the ripest ones were chosen. These were then pulped at each farm’s wet mill, or ‘micro-beneficio.’ After pulping, coffee was placed on drying beds without being washed, leaving coffee with a layer of mucilage that resembles a glazing of sticky honey (hence the name ‘honey’ processing). This step ensured fermentation occurred as the coffee dried.
Thanks to Aponte’s cool, windy climate and high altitudes, coffee generally dries more quickly and evenly than in lower parts of Colombia. This leads to more consistency in the coffees produced, and encourages the development of cleaner, more complex flavours in the cup. To ensure the drying stage occured uniformly, coffee for this lot was regularly turned by hand until it reached ideal moisture content.
Once dry, the coffee was delivered to Pergamino’s warehouse, where it was cupped and graded, and then rested in parchment until ready for export.
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