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Tasting Notes: Caramel, raspberry, citrus & spice. 

Producers: Didier Javier Pajoy, Daniel Sanchez, Harold Pajoy, Albert Caldon, Christian Pajoy, and Elias Pajoy.
Location: La Plata, Huila, Colombia
Elevation: 1900 masl
Varietals: Caturra, Colombia

Additional information from Shared Source Green Coffee Agency:

Six separated Colombia and Caturra lots from La Plata, Western Huila. An average altitude of 1750masl. Cherry fermented and then anaerobically fermented before being fully washed. This is a grassroots collaborative ecological initiative between the brothers Pajoy and their neighbors Daniel and Albert.

Led by our main man Didier Javier Pajoy, La Banda Rebelde (The Rebel Gang as we’ve
dubbed them and they’ve delighted in) is a completely independent group of neighbors that formed after meeting Shared Source and being assured of a committed final buyer. Didier was on the verge of giving up on coffee production all together when we randomly met him at the local Co-Op where he was working. After learning that he also grew coffee, we suggested he bring us a parchment sample the following day. We cupped and it was delicious- and then we called him up, offered him the highest price he’d ever seen, and the rest is history. We now buy from the whole gang. They all grow Caturra and Colombia varietals between 1650 and 1950 masl in a traditionally overlooked zone of Huila for specialty coffee, La Plata.

We all collaborate to improve coffee quality and farm regeneratively. The producers share brix and humidity meters we’ve donated; we have been experimenting with different fermentation regimes and vessels; we’re constantly cupping all their experiments and making recommendations, and they’re constantly coming up with ingenious things to try. They measure exact sugar levels at picking; depulping; during fermentation and at washing.

Cherries are selectively picked for full ripeness using a Brix meter, floated to remove over and under-ripes that would otherwise negatively affect a healthy fermentation, left overnight for a 12-hour cherry ferment, depulped early the following morning and anaerobically fermented in sealed tubs or Grainpro bags. Washing occurs at the optimal time depending on the farm. Through cupping we’ve found different results on a farm-by-farm basis in terms of when to wash (or more accurately, how low the sugar levels can get).

Aside from pre-finance payments to provide financial security before the lots are ready to deliver, La Banda uses a rotating fund we established to pay pickers good prices to select only the reddest cherries. This cash before harvest is crucial- pickers are the most expensive element in specialty coffee production, more often than not, farmers are not able to pay pickers enough to select only ripe cherries, meaning there’s no chance of processing specialty grade, meaning no price differential. This is a vicious circle we have so easily been able to disrupt because we all trust each other.

Most importantly, each member of this little rebel group practices their own form of
ecological agriculture, roving from farm to farm as a team and applying their homemade preps. Starting with a base micro- organism population using a few kilos of virgin soil from native oak forest, they add micro nutrients, molasses and animal products (manure, bone ash) and let this ferment for up to several months and use it as the base for other fermented and enriched products: foliar sprays to protect against leaf rust, foliar fertilizer, used on coffee pulp to decompose faster to have actual live compost to work with. They are all deep in the process of transitioning to zero-chemical inputs. We consider this type of farming to be superior to simply ‘organic’ as soil microbial populations are being increased. We have started contracting Didier to visit and teach these preparations to other small producers we work with across Huila. Empowering him to diversify his income and flex his professional muscles in the teaching arena is a great example of the power of farmer-to-farmer teaching.

We purchase parchment coffee directly from each member of the Banda Rebelde, and pesos are transferred straight to their bank account upon receipt of parchment at our chosen mill. We pay for transport from La Plata to the mill. We paid between 1,450,000 - 1,650,000 pesos/carga (125 kilos of parchment coffee, this is the unit farmers sell their coffee in) for the coffees that make up this lot. For context, here is a link to the daily carga market price: https://www.federaciondecafeteros.org/static/files/precio_cafe.pdf