Floripondio Batian Natural

  • Country
    Bolivia
  • Department
    Santa Cruz
  • Region
    Agua Rica
  • Town
    Samaipata
  • Altitude
    1,710m above sea level
  • Variety
    Batian
  • Processing
    Natural
  • Owner
    Los Rodriguez Family

Juicy, tropical acidity, with maple syrup sweetness and a long, clean finish. Sour cherry, kiwi fruit and almond liqueur.  

This very special 60kg micro-lot comes from Floripondio, a farm located in a new growing region in Bolivia called Samaipata, which is located in the easterly department of Santa Cruz, 120km from the city of Santa Cruz, at the foot of the Bolivian Andes.

The farm is owned by the Rodriguez family. The Rodriguez’ has a business called Agricafe, that produces coffee from its own farms, and sources quality micro-lots from small producers in the Yungas region.

Coffee production in Bolivia is, and always has been, very small. Pedro began his journey in coffee by working with small producers in Caranavi, building a wet mill to process their coffee, and educating producers to selectively handpick their cherries. He also started to process small micro-lots from each of the producers, and because of the unique combination of heirloom varieties, rich soil and incredibly high altitudes, the results were outstanding.

However, despite increased international recognition for its quality, coffee production in Bolivia began to rapidly decline over a very short period of time for many reasons. Some farmers switched to coca – grown for the drug trade and illegal to produce in Caranavi – because it provided them with a high year-round income. For those still in coffee, their yields were also declining as a result of ageing coffee plantations, unsophisticated farming techniques, and leaf rust. The combination of these factors resulted in the nation’s coffee production decline by more than half.

 

In 2012, as leaf rust started to obliterate the production in many small farms, Pedro and his family began to invest in their own plantations, fearing that coffee production in Bolivia would disappear completely. This, they recognised was critical to guarantee a minimum level of supply and thus ensure the future sustainability of their business. They acquired land in Caranavi near their Buena Vista mill and created their first farm, Finca La Linda. “This is where the dream started,” Pedro says.

Today Agricafe has 12 farms and around 130 hectares of coffee under the banner of ‘Fincas Los Rodriguez’.  Seven of these are in Caranavi, in the department of La Paz, and the remaining five are in Samaipata (where Floripondio is located), in the department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia’s east.

The Rodriguez family’s approach to coffee production has been extremely methodical, innovative and scientific. Along the way, they consulted leading specialty coffee agronomists from around the world to help them produce exceptional coffee and build sustainable and healthy farms. A wide range of varieties have been trialled, along with different farming techniques, to optimise quality and output. They have carefully documented their findings at every step of the way and continue to innovate and invest in improvements to produce the very best quality coffee they can.

The Rodriguez farms are some of the most organised and beautiful we have come across. Coffee is well spaced in neat rows and meticulously planted by variety, making picking and lot separation much easier to manage than on more traditional farms in the region. The farms are vibrant, luscious and healthy, and produce exceptional quality and yields.

ABOUT FLORIPONDIO

Floripondio is one of the more recent farms planted in Samaipata, where the Rodriguez family has been experimenting with growing specialty coffee. Historically, this region has not been known for producing coffee, but after success in growing exceptional coffee at their first farm in the region – El Fuerte – the Rodriguez family have continued investing more heavily in the region, planting four more farms, including Floripondio, and building a wet mill to process the coffee.

 

Floripondio was established in 2014.  The farm is 29 hectares in size and sits at a staggering 1,710 meters above sea level. This high altitude, combined with the region’s fairly extreme climate (which goes from 25-30°C during the day and 8-10°C at night) makes the ripening process of the cherries slow down, and the sugars of the fruit are concentrated in the cherry and bean, which in turn helps produce an incredibly sweet and complex coffee.

Because of Floripondio’s high altitude, its tropical microclimate, and its distinct soil profile, the Rodriguez family has chosen to locate their variety nursery at the farm. To date, they have planted over 50 varieties, making it the largest variety garden in all of Bolivia. Their objective is to work out which are best suited to the land and this particular latitude and altitude. To separate the different varieties, they kept the original lemon and tangerine trees on the farm and sell the fruit to the local markets. At the end of the harvest, all the varieties are cupped and decisions are made about which variety to plant on the different farms of Los Rodriguez.

Floripondio gets its name from the Floripondio flowers (commonly known as Angel’s Trumpet in English) that are native to the area and grow throughout the farm. The flower is thought to possess some hallucinogenic properties, and legend has it that as soon as you lay down beneath a Floripondio tree you start dreaming. This is apt, as the natural scenery at Floripondio is breathtakingly beautiful and can at times, seem like something out of a dream.

 

The farm has 2 viewpoints with a spectacular view over the known hills ‘Los Andes’, as well as over the natural reserve called Amboró, which has one of the largest reserves in bird species and biodiversity of animals and fauna. The Amboró National Park is a protected area of Bolivia and one of the world’s reserves with the greatest biodiversity, located west of the department of Santa Cruz, in the so-called “Codo de los Andes”, where the western mountain range changes course to the south.

HOW THIS COFFEE WAS PROCESSED

Pickers from the Samaipata community carefully handpick the coffee at Floripondio every day during the harvest. These pickers have been trained to select only the very ripest cherries and pass through the farm every day to ensure the coffee is only picked at its prime. Selective picking is always very important – and particularly important for  special micro-lots like this one to ensure a very sweet and clean cup. The Rodriguez family have found that the very ripest (almost purple) cherries provide the best cup.

 

After the coffee was delivered to the mill, it was placed into a floatation tank and all floaters were removed. The coffee was then laid out to dry on raised beds and regularly turned for up to 48hrs, before being finished in a mechanical dryer for around 35hrs, with temperatures no higher than 40˚C. When the coffee reached 16% humidity it was rested for five hours in a silo, and then carefully dried until it reached 11.5% humidity.

Once the coffee was dry, it was transported to La Paz where it was rested, and then milled at Agricafe’s dry mill, La Luna. At this state-of-the-art mill, coffee is meticulously hulled and sorted using machinery, and is also sorted carefully by hand under UV and natural light. The mill is one of the cleanest and most impressive we have seen – you can read more about it here.

 

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

You can watch an interview with Pedro Rodriguez, the owner of Agricafe, here and about Agricafe’s small producer training program, Sol de la Mañana, here, and about Bolivian coffee more generally here.