Small Producers of Cajamarca

  • Country
    Colombia
  • State
    Tolima
  • Municipality
    Cajamarca
  • Town
    Cajamarca
  • Elevation
    1,850 - 2,150m above sea level
  • Variety
    Caturra, Colombia
  • Processing
    Washed
  • Average Farm Size
    1.5 hectares
  • Contributing Producers
    Alexander Mancilla, Obdulio Torres, Silvestre, Hernan Ruiz, Roberto Ramirez, Alfonso Baquero
  • Relationship Length
    Since 2022

Great clarity and balance, with bright acidity and honey sweetness. Lemonade, green apple and hibiscus tea, with cocoa on the finish.

This coffee was grown and processed by six smallholder producers that are situated around the town and municipality of Cajamarca, located in the state of Tolima, Colombia.

The farms that contributed to this lot are very small – on average just 1.5 hectares in size – and are located between 1900-2100m above sea level, in the steep, rugged hills that surround the town. Cajamarca translates to ‘Cold Lands’ in the local Quechua language and was once a major settlement for the Anaime and Tochas indigenous groups, before being colonised in 1886.

Historically, the municipality of Cajamarca has been known as one of Colombia’s agricultural hubs. Thanks to nearby volcano Cerro Machínhe the land is incredibly fertile, with volcanic soils rich in minerals and nutrients. The Anaime canyon below supplies the town with ample amounts of fresh water, and powers the the local fishing industry. Along with coffee, the municipality is known for being Colombia’s top producer of arracacha (also known as white carrot, or yellow cassava), a root vegetable that is rich in calcium and vitamin A and a staple of the local diet.

In recent years, the town has had to stand up to large mining companies that have been buying up land and tearing up established farms in search for gold. The community has banded together and fought back, as they recognise that concentrating in agriculture is more environmentally and socially sustainable in the long run.

Most farms in the region are planted with the Caturra variety, which was the most popular variety during the 1970s and 1980s when the farms were established. Coffee in Cajamarca is farmed with traditional techniques. 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 TOLIMA

Coffee from Tolima has historically been very difficult to access due to the region’s isolation and instability. For many years this part of Colombia was under the control of Colombia’s notorious rebel group, the FARC, and as a result, it was unsafe and violent. Since 2012, safe access to this region has been possible as a result of peace talks between the Colombian government and the rebels. Since this time some stunning coffees from small producers have become accessible to the international market.

The word ‘Tolima’ comes from the local indigenous language and means a “river of snow or cloud”. The region sits on the Cordillera Central, in the middle of the three mountain ranges that provide a range of microclimates well-suited to high-quality coffee production. Coffee is the leading agricultural activity in the region, followed by beans and cattle.

 

The most well-known regions in Tolima for specialty coffee are Planadas and Chaparral in the south. This coffee comes from the areas surrounding Ibagué, which is further north in the state. The city is also known as the “Ciudad del Abanico” or the “city of the folding fan” because when you look at it from the sky the rivers running from the mountains split up the crops of rice and cotton, and it looks like a beautiful handmade folding fan.

Our export partners for this coffee, Pergamino, have worked hard commercialise specialty-grade coffee throughout Tolima, and are now able to source some stunning coffees from very dedicated producers. They work closely with the producers to give them feedback on their coffees (provided by Pergamino’s expert team of cuppers) and provide top up payments when the coffee is sold at a higher premium.

Head here to learn more about the work of Pergamino.

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 using the washed 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, where it was fermented for around 48 hours (depending on the weather and the farm’s location) and then washed using clean water from nearby rivers and streams.

 

It was then carefully dried (over 10–18 days) on parabolic beds, which are constructed a bit like a ‘hoop house’ greenhouse, and act to protect the coffee from the rain and prevent condensation dripping back onto the drying beans. The greenhouse is constructed out of plastic sheets and have adjustable walls to help with airflow, and temperature control to ensure the coffee can dry slowly and evenly.

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.