Producer – Darwin Ausecha
Region – Cauca
Farm – Colombia Finca Berlín
Lot – El Alto
Varieties – 50% Caturra and 50% Colombia
Fermentation Type – Dry for 36 hours
Average age of plants – 5 Years
Altitude – 1740 masl
Area – 4 Ha
In a country as large as Colombia, with an established coffee industry that is spread over 17 regions, there is bound to be variation in quality with a range that includes truly exceptional through to rather ordinary. Colombia is the third largest producer of coffee in the world after Brazil and Vietnam – though holds the crown for being the largest producer of washed Arabica. The coffee producing areas lie among the foothills of the Andes and the Sierra Nevada, where the climate is temperate with adequate rainfall. Colombia has three secondary mountain ranges (cordilleras) that run towards the Andes and it is amongst these that the coffee is grown. The hilly terrain provides a wide variety of micro-climates which means that harvesting can take place throughout the year as the coffee of different farms will ripen at varying times. There are more than half a million growers spread throughout the key regions of Nariño, Cauca, Meta, Huila, Tolima, Quindio, Caldas, Risaralda, Antioquia, Valle del Cauca, Cundinamarca, Guajira, Cesar, Madgalena, Boyacá, Santander and Norte de Santander. Key varietals include caturra, bourbon, typica, castillo and maragogype.
The first exports of coffee from Colombia began in 1835 when around 2,500 bags were exported to the U.S. and by 1875 there were 170,000 bags leaving the country bound for the U.S. and Europe. Exports grew over the next hundred years or so and peaked in 1992 at around 17 million bags. Today, following unreliable weather patterns and a national programme of plant regeneration, Colombian exports are currently around 9 million bags of coffee per year. Coffee’s importance to the Colombian economy brought about the development of The Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros (FNC) in 1927. This body is responsible for research, technical advisory services, quality control and marketing. Juan Valdez, a fictitious character created by the FNC, is the world famous moustachioed, mule -riding and sombrero-wearing coffee farmer and very much the face of the Colombian coffee industry. It is widely accepted that some of the country’s best coffees come from the south west in the departments of Huila, Tolima, Nariño and Cauca.
Darwin Ausecha is a smallholder farmer in the La Sierra region of Cauca. He has been growing coffee for 48 years, and lives with his wife and three children, who all help produce the coffee at Colombia Finca Berlin. They have a hand pulper and two small tiled fermentation tanks, where they dry ferment the coffee for 24-36 hours. They then dry the coffee on a small patio. This lot, El Alto, is a blend of 50% Colombia and 50% Caturra varietals.