Small Producers of Belén

  • Country
    Colombia
  • State
    Cauca
  • Municipality
    Inzá
  • Town
    Belén
  • Elevation
    1,900 - 2,100m above sea level
  • Variety
    Caturra, Colombia, Tabi
  • Processing
    Washed
  • Average Farm Size
    1.5 Hectares
  • Contributing Producers
    Marleny Pechené, Diomedes Quinto, Humberto Volveras, Willian Quint, Obeimar Quinto, Abelardo Lizcano
  • Relationship Length
    Since 2022

Sweet and creamy, with a syrupy mouthfeel and sparkling finish. Vanilla, Golden Delicious apple and milk chocolate.

This coffee was produced by eight smallholder coffee producers from the region surrounding the small town of Belén, located within the municipality of Inzá in the state of Cauca, in the south of 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. Farmers in Belén benefit from abundant freshwater, thanks to the local Rio Negro (Black River) and its tributaries. The town has breathtaking views of Colombia’s highest volcano, Nevado del Huila, which sits at the point where the states of Huila, Tolima and Cauca meet.

The rich, volcanic soil of the area makes it ideal for agriculture and contributes to the excellent cup quality of coffees grown and processed here. Cool overnight temperatures result in dense beans, which are notable for their sweetness and complexity. Lower temperatures and high rainfall also influence processing techniques, with longer ferment and drying times being necessary.

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. In recent years, many farmers in the region have also introduced hybrid varietals like Colombia and Tabi, as part of the country’s efforts to reduce the incidence of coffee leaf rust, without affecting cup quality.

Coffee in Belén 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 INZA

The municipality of Inzá is located in the corner of the state of Cauca, bordering with Tolima and Huila and looking out to the west over the Pacific Ocean. This region has excellent conditions for growing high-quality coffee, with high elevations and rich volcanic soil. The plateau has very stable climate year-round thanks to its proximity to the equator and the surrounding mountains, which protect the coffee against the humidity of the Pacific and the trade winds from the south.  This region is an important source of water and wildlife, in addition to being prime coffee-growing land.

 

Coffee from Cauca 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 national government and the rebels. Thanks to these efforts, more and more stunning coffees from small producers in the region have become accessible.

Our export partners for this coffee, Pergamino, have worked hard commercialise specialty-grade coffee throughout Cauca, 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.

 

The coffee 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 greenhouses are 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 in Medellín, where it was cupped and graded. Once approved, coffee rested in parchment until it was ready for export.