Colombia Viviana Realpe
Colombia, Vivianna Realpe
Farmer: Viviana Realpe,
Region: El Mesón, Huila
Flavour Notes: Caramel, marzipan, honey, apple acidity, soft field berry notes
Viviana farms alongside her husband Pablo, occasionally with some help from their 7 year old son Juan Pablo. Her 7 hectare farm, inherited from her father, is between 1650 -1700 masl, and she has a variety of trees: 15000 Caturra trees, 8000 pink bourbon, 5000 Variedad Colombia, and 2000 Castillo which she sells to the local cooperative.
To process, she starts with ripe cherries, and she floats them in water to remove the under- and over-ripe cherries. From there, she carefully stores the cherries in a sealed Grain Pro bag, and they begin their fermentation process within the cherry. After 28 hours of this initial “cherry-ferment”, she de-pulps the coffee, and leaves it to ferment in water, constantly stirring and cleaning the water- for up to 40 hours. During peak harvest seasons, she pays a significantly higher price to pickers, which allows her to ask that they only pick ripe cherries. Friends and family from her husband’s side of the family from Nariño (with a primary harvest season in different months) also come in to help with picking. From there, it dries for about 3 weeks on a dryer that Viviana and her family recently built (they used to dry parchment on her parents’ farm)- their new dryer is large enough to dry 1000 kg (that’s pretty big!), and they’re looking forward to larger production, thanks to increased yields because of careful pruning.
Viviana and Pablo are moving slowly towards organic production, though they’re worried about their yields going down, which could be devastating from an economic perspective. Shared Source has advised her (like they do all of their producers) that we encourage her transition towards organics to be slow, thoughtful and planned out. The farm is on a steep hillside, which makes bringing fertilizer, organic material, and other farm inputs to the trees a difficult task. They recently built a pulley/bridge system to bring bags from one part of the farm to another with more ease and efficiency. The family used to use coffee processing infrastructure- like de-pulpers, fermentation tanks, and dryers- from Viviana and Pablo’s parents’ farms, but this year they’re investing in the materials and building a ceramic tile-lined fermentation tank, purchasing a de-pulper, and building a dryer on their own farm.
Viviana is a member of Los Guácharos- a group of independent, quality-focused small producers in 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. Many 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.