Roaster’s tasting notes: What a great find. A silky mouthfeel delivering notes of cherry and green apple with a balanced honey sweetness. Delicious.
Alicia Rave is the leader and matriarch of the Rave Family, composed of her three children and two grandchildren. She has run her small family farm, aptly named ‘La Reina/The Queen’, with precision and a deft hand. She has, over the years, instilled a love for coffee farming in her children, as well. Two of her three children still live on the farm and work the land with care and diligence. Given the small farm size, for most of the year, their help is sufficient to keep the farm in tip top shape. They only bring in additional labour during the coffee harvest.
The annual production of the farm is around 3,000 kilos of parchment per year, divided across two different crop cycles per year. Coffee plants are intercropped with plantain and banana trees, which help to generate additional income. The family also has some cattle, which they use as an additional line of income.
Alicia is a member of the Cooperativa de Caficultores de Anserma. The coop was originally created in 1967 with the aim of improving quality of life for coffee producers in the region. They started small but today represent more than 2,000 producers who farm on around 9,000 hectares of prime coffee growing land.
The cooperative not only promotes quality improvements in coffee in the region but also envisage coffee as a means to social and economic development. To this end, they have long invested all the received profits from their commercial activities into social programs geared towards maximum impact in the wider community. They provide access to healthcare and life insurance for members, invest in gender equality and education programs and provide a wide range of financing for their producer members and their families.
They have also begun a roast and ground business to help producers maximise the profit they receive from coffee production. Their excellent administrative practices have enabled them to achieve Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance and Café Practices certifications.
Each member of the cooperative (like Alicia) farms his/her own small plot of land according to the group’s recommended best practices. The density of tree planted varies with the landscape but tends to be between 5,000 and 7,500 plants per hectare. The most common varieties grown are Colombia, Caturra and Castillo, as across much of Colombia, though some producers may have other small plots of more traditional or experimental varieties. Because of the small average plot size, most producer members also produce secondary crops by doubling up on shade tree plantings – such as plantain or fruit.
Fertilization is conducted at least twice a year with organic material such as coffee pulp and the by products of other harvests. The use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides remains minimal to non-existent. Many of the farmers in the region are de-facto organic producers.
This particular lot, which has been set apart from the cooperative’s group lots due to its exceptional quality, was selectively hand harvested by Alicia and her family. The ripe cherries were then pulped and fermented for around 17
hours, before being fully washed and laid to dry on the farm’s patios. The patios have movable roofs that help protect the coffee from bad weather.