Finca Los Palomos

  • Country
    Colombia
  • State
    Antioquia
  • Municipality
    Urrao
  • Sub-municipality
    Pavon
  • Farm
    Finca Los Palomos
  • Farm Size
    10 hectares
  • Elevation
    2,050m above sea level
  • Variety
    Chiroso Bourbon
  • Processing
    Extended Fermentation
  • Farmer
    Léonardo Henao
  • Awards
    Placed 16th in 2021 Cup of Excellence

Abundantly floral, with vanilla, elderflower and kefir lime. Lychee, blackcurrant and grapefruit in the cup. Distinct and complex. 

This special 1,050kg  micro-lot was grown and processed by Léonardo Henao on his 10 hectare farm, Los Palomos (meaning ‘the doves’ in Spanish) situated near the small community of Pavon, in the municipality of Urrao in Colombia’s Antioquia State. The farm sits at a staggering 2,100m above sea level, overlooking the high, rolling hills of Urrao.

We are excited to be featuring a coffee from our good friend Léonardo, who is also the Director of Coffee for our supply partner, Pergamino, and one of the most knowledgeable, curious and passionate coffee professionals we have met. Through his work with Pergamino, Léo was inspired to establish his own coffee farm in the beautiful region of Urrao. Fincas Los Palomos represents Léo’s deep respect for ancestral traditions with a detailed knowledge of coffee varieties and post-harvest processes.

Léo is assisted in the day-to-day operations by his long-time friend Jorge Cuella, who acts as the farm’s administrator. Together, they have focused on experimenting with new varieties and processing methods to achieve the highest possible cup quality.

This micro-lot is 100% Chiroso Bourbon, a new variety that has become recognised internationally for its exceptional cup quality. The Chiroso variety is native to Urrao and is most likely a mutation of the Caturra variety, which has been historically planted in this area. Originally cultivated for its resilience to the cool climate of Urrao, it is now being celebrated for its complex and floral cup profile, which attracts higher premiums from specialty buyers. Coupled with the slow fermentation process typical to Urrao, this variety is resulting in some outstanding coffee lots and bringing international attention to this micro-region of Colombia.

There are two types of Chiroso variety, which are distinguished by locals as ‘Chiroso Caturra’, which has a shorter bean similar to Caturra, and ‘Chiroso Borbon”, which is more elongated and similar to Bourbon. The Chiroso Bourbon was only discovered recently, during one of Pergamino’s visits to José Arcadio Caro, one of the original growers to cultivate Chiroso some thirty years ago. José relayed that every so often there were taller trees growing on his farm, with a distinct size and shape of the cherries. The team at Pergamino isolated these trees and cultivated them on Léo’s land, eventually discovering that these plants produced coffees with outstanding complexity and flavour.

Now, Léo has a small section of his farm devoted to growing the tall Chiroso Bourbon variety. This is one of the first lots to be produced and exported from this parcel of land. We are so excited to share it with our community here in Australia.

ABOUT URRAO

Urrao is a unique and special coffee growing region, located in the valley of Rio Penderisco, at around 1900m above sea level. Unlike other producing regions in Colombia, which are characterised by deep canyons and massive, rugged mountains, Urrao is covered in rolling green hills, calm pastures and beautiful rivers that snake through the landscape. This geography guarantees cool temperatures year-round, typically only reaching between 12-25 degrees. This cool climate is ideal for slow ripening of coffee cherries, leading to denser beans and a sweeter, more complex cup profile.

Until recently Urrao was overlooked as a coffee producing region and dismissed by many as being too cold for good production. There is still very little coffee produced in the area, despite it being some of the most fertile land in Antioquia. Many farmers complement the income they make from coffee by growing Lulu, a type of passionfruit that tastes similar to a kiwi fruit and that is incredibly popular in Colombia. Coffee grown in Urrao is slowly becoming recognised and sought after for its high quality and complexity.

Farms in Urrao are very small – averaging just 1.5 hectares – and are traditionally farmed. Fertilisation occurs around three times a year, usually after manual weeding, and pesticides are rarely used. The coffee is selectively hand harvested, with most labour being provided by the farmers and their families.

ABOUT ANTIOQUIA

Antioquia is located in central North Western Colombia. Coffee was introduced to the region in the latter part of the 19thcentury. Since then, this mountainous, fertile department has 128,000 hectares of coffee that is produced by a mix of large estates and tiny farms.

Antioquia only recently became more accessible to specialty coffee buyers – largely thanks to a transformation of the department led by Sergio Fajardo, who was the governor of the department in 2012-2016. Sergio transformed Antioquia’s capital city, Medellín, from a violent and dangerous place to a world-class tourist destination with a strong economy. Coffee has played a significant role in this this transformation, and as access to many producers has improved, the region has become one of Colombia’s most important and celebrated coffee-producing areas.

ABOUT PERGAMINO

In Colombia, we are proud to partner with Pergamino, a progressive, family-owned company, dedicated to producing, sourcing and exporting exceptional Colombian coffee. In addition to producing exquisite coffee on their own estates, the Pergamino team have created an Allied Producer Program which is dedicated to uncovering and commercialising specialty coffee in areas of Colombia that have historically had little access to specialty buyers, like MCM, who pay good premiums for high-quality coffees. Pergamino’s pioneering approach has allowed us to connect with some extremely dedicated and quality-focused smallholder producers and to start to build long term and mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Léo – who is both a coffee producer and experienced agronomist – was Pergamino’s first employee outside of the family and was hired as an export and logistics expert. He joined the company with many existing connections to smallholder producers through his previous work, both as an exporter and a coffee grower himself. As Pergamino began to independently export Santa Barbara’s coffees, Léo was approached by many of these farmers asking him to also export and market their coffees on their behalf, with the hope of accessing specialty buyers who pay quality-based premiums and increasing transparency on how and where their coffee was being sold. Realising many farmers were facing the same difficulties and frustration that they had at Santa Barbara, Pedro and Léo decided to do something to help alleviate these challenges. In pursuit of this goal, the Allied Producer Program was established in 2013.

“For me, coffee is more than a beverage. Coffee is the link between different cultures that, maybe, they will never meet otherwise. Coffee is the bridge between the final consumers and the growers.” – Léonardo Henao Triana

Seven years on, almost 80% of what Pergamino exports is sourced through the program, which now operates in five different regions of Colombia – Antioquia, Cauca, Tolima, Nariño and Huila. Pergamino works on the premise that the specialty coffee market is a much more stable and profitable business than the commodity market, and that to encourage specialty production you must have access to a specialty buyer. The team actively works to support coffee producers in remote areas – many of whom would have been severely affected by violent clashes between illegal drug cartels, rebels and paramilitary groups until very recently – that have potential for excellent quality, but that have not historically had access to the specialty market. The program connects smallholder farmers to buyers who are willing to pay high premiums for great coffee, thereby incentivising quality and improving the livelihood of the coffee-producing communities.

HOW THIS COFFEE WAS PROCESSED

The coffees in this lot were selectively hand-harvested, with most labour being provided by the farmers and their families. They were processed with an extended fermentation, as part of the washing method, at each farm’s ‘micro-beneficio’ (mill).

The coffee was pulped using a small manual or electric pulper and then placed into a fermentation tank. Because of the cooler climate in Urrao, producers tend to ferment the coffees for longer than usual and will often blend several days’ worth of pickings over a 3-5 day period. Every day, freshly picked cherry is pulped and added to the mix, which lowers the pH level and – along with the cooler temperatures – allows for an extended fermentation process. This fermentation process contributes to a vibrant, winey acidity in the coffee’s cup profile.

Following fermentation, the coffee was washed using clean water from the Rio Penderisco and then carefully sun-dried over 10–18 days. Most farmers in the area use the “Casa Elba” system for drying, where parchment is laid out to dry on rooftop patios (usually on top of the farmhouse). A retractable roof on a pulley system can be pulled over the coffee to protect it during rainy weather or to slow down the drying process when it is very hot and sunny. Rakes are used to turn the coffee regularly during the drying stage, to ensure even drying.

Once dry, the coffee was delivered to Pergamino’s warehouse, where it was cupped and graded, and then rested in parchment until it was ready for export.

Read more about our Colombian export partner, Pergamino, here.