Colombia, Los Guacharos Pink Bourbon
Colombia, Los Guacharos Pink Bourbon
Farmer: Alirio Muñoz, Aldemar Quistial, Luis Octavio Titimbo, Viviana Realpe, and German Ortiz
Region: Bruselas, Southern Huila
Varietals: Pink Bourbon
Flavour Notes: Smooth, Raspberry, Rose Florals, Chocolate
Los Guacharos are a group of independent, quality-focused small producers in Bruselas, Southern Huila (close to Pitalito). The group is collectively converting to organic agriculture, making their own fertilizers and fungicides, installing complex water filtration systems that use gravity, stones and sand to remove all mucilage residues from waste water to not contaminate water systems.
This lot is made up of pink bourbon lots from five individual producers. Each producer has a slightly different processing method, but all of them pick cherries as ripe as can be, depulp them, ferment until it has reached its ideal washing point for maximum sweetness, and then fully wash the parchment. Each producer has a different regiment, but many dry on raised bets or drying patios, where the coffee is covered with shade cloths. Parchment coffee is stored in grain pro bags at home to ensure that humidity is stable at around 10.5%.
The members of the group have started the conversion to fully ecological and regenerative production, close to biodynamics. The Guacharos produce a brew (called Super Magro) made up of organic minerals and waste products, molasses, bone ash and manure (among other ingredients), fermented with microorganisms collected from virgin soils and used as a fertilizer and protectant from disease. The Super Magro is edible, incredibly effective, and represents a producer-driven grassroots movement empowering producers to increase soil health, reduce costs and stop dependence on chemicals.
Alirio Muñoz farms in the township of El Mesón in Huila, and he has around 10,000 pink bourbon trees on his farm El Placer. He and his wife Anayibe have both been members of the Los Guacharos group for many years. Alirio has a great sense of humor and is a leader in keeping the members united in the group. He and Anayibe have dedicated a section of their farm as a conservation site for the local flora and fauna.
Viviana Realpe also farms in the township of El Mesón, and she has about 8,000 pink bourbon trees on her farm. She and her husband Pablo used to process their cherries at a nearby family member’s farm, but they recently invested in their own we mill processing equipment, which has helped them to more carefully manage the processing of their coffee.
Luis Octavio Titimbo farms outside of Bruselas, and has about 4,500 pink bourbon trees. He has a mix of caturra and variedad colombia along with his pink bourbon trees on the farm, and has been working to amend his soil for better productive conditions.
Aldemar Quistial’s 3 ha. farm is in the township of La Esperanza, though his home, wet mill and dryer are in the nearby township of Cabeceras. He has about 3,000 pink bourbon trees. He has a high concentration of aluminum in his soil, and is actively working to adjust his soil, especially because his avocado crops failed- he’s working alongside other Guacharos members to improve his soil quality through micronutrient additions.
German Ortiz’s farm Mi Terruño is in the township of Cabeceras, where he has 2,000 pink bourbon trees. He is an avid composter, and has been actively decomposing his coffee pulp alongside other farm organic matter to make fermented brews to spray on his trees.
We have been working independently with the Guacharos for several years. They are forcefully self-determined. The group’s power lies in their organization as an association, committed to improving all members’ coffee, and cooperating to sell directly, without working with intermediaries. They have all voluntarily trained at the local agricultural college in specialty coffee production: everything from agronomy and accounting to roasting, cupping and latte art. They collectively pay for consultancy in organic agriculture, and they work on each other’s farms installing water filtration systems and spraying organic fertilizers.
We are in regular contact with a large number of producer-members who make sure our recommendations in terms of processing and parchment storage are diffused throughout the group. We work the closest with Edilma and Carmen: they know when we are returning to cup and purchase and make sure all the producers know to deliver parchment samples, a massive bag of samples are then sent to the lab that we use in Pitalito for us to assess. We cup and then visit and invariably take another big bag of samples, which we roast and cup again. We cup each producer’s coffee meticulously- even if it doesn’t pass the grade, we give them lengthy feedback on processing so they can improve.
When we decide on the lots, they hire a truck and we pay for transport to the mill whose services we contract. We then export under our own license and pay the association directly from our Colombian bank account. They are an inspiring group full of smiles and the will to constantly learn and improve as artisans and improve the livelihoods of their members, all of which are very small-scale farmers of coffee and their own food crops.