microlot • Victor Alfonso Trujillo, El Mirador • Huila, Tarqui
notes / lemon, nectarine, dark chocolate
profile / sparkly, sweet, medium body
owner / Victor Alfonso Trujillo
farm / Finca El Mirador
region / El Libano, Tarqui, Huila
altitude / 1800 masl
varietals / Colombia
processing / washed
drying method / raised African beds
importer / West Coast Coffee Traders
In 2008 Victor purchased the land from his father and named it El Mirador. He began as a commercial producer, and started producing specialty when he met Fairfield Trading Company in 2015.
Process starts with only collecting the ripest cherries, adding them to sacks for a “dehydration” fermentation period of 24 hours, depending on the weather. If it is too cold, he will “dehydrate” for longer. Next, he de-pulps the cherry, and adds the wet parchment into clean plastic sacks for 60-70 hours. The ambient temperature, temperature of the coffee in the sacks, and the smell of the fermenting coffee inform him of how long to ferment within that range.
After the fermentation is finished, he will wash the coffee minimally, 1-2 times – according to Victor “if you wash it too long, you lose more complex flavors and properties” – adding the washed product back into clean plastic sacks for another 24 hours before drying.
Drying takes 20-25 days under shade in his “Zarzo” dryer. Towards the end of the drying process, he takes the coffee out to dry in direct sun to finish the drying and achieve a moisture reading of 10.5-10.8.
A “zarzo” or “cielo raso” is a dropped ceiling or attic that is under the exterior roof of the house. It is an antiquated form of drying that saves space and is similar to a “casa elba” without the retractable roof.
Once the coffee is dried, it is cleaned of any foreign debris and sorted to remove any defects.
Biggest Challenges: A few years ago, Victor was carrying wet parchment from his farm in El Libano to his home/drying facility in the Rica Brisas neighbourhood by horse, as there was no road. He has since installed a road and with the help of a neighbouring producer’s truck, can bring the coffee down with a lot less of a challenge.
When Victor is in peak harvest, the hardest thing is to find pickers. Most pickers prefer to work at lower elevation and on flatter lands since the farms are less quality focused and do not require them to pick only the ripest cherries. Because of this, him and his neighbours have to pay higher than average prices, and provide a variety of better meals for the pickers.
Future Plans: Victor hopes to introduce 2,000 trees of Pink Bourbon on the farm, starting with the .5 hectares that is not in production, with a spacing of 1,50 x 1x80.
His father has another 2 hectares he wants to eventually buy and cultivate with different varieties.
He also wants to update the wet mill facilities on the farm and install an updated drying facility on the farm.
- During COVID-19, he moved his family from the family house in the neighbourhood of Rica Brisas to El Mirador, where they enjoy gardening and peace and tranquility that comes with being atop Finca El Mirador
- Victor mentioned that “One of the blessing of the pandemic, as tragic as it has been, was finding time to slow down, reconnect with the earth that provides us all our livelihoods, and to enjoy time with family.
- Before working with FFT, he sold his coffee commercially to whoever was paying the highest prices. He decided to work with FFT and to make the effort to produce specialty coffee after seeing how well it was going for his neighbours. He learned specialty coffee production with the help of Alejandro Renjifo, neighbouring producers, and trial and error – “Listening to the coffee has been what has taught me the most.”