Jose Elmer Olaya | Tolima, Colombia
Jose Elmer Olaya | Tolima, Colombia Jose Elmer Olaya | Tolima, Colombia Jose Elmer Olaya | Tolima, Colombia Jose Elmer Olaya | Tolima, Colombia

Notes: Mandarin, caramel, chocolate & thyme. 
Produced by: Jose Elmer Olaya of ASOPEP (Asociación de Productores Ecológicos de Planadas)
Varietal: Yellow Caturra & Colombia
Tolima, Colombia
Elevation: 1920 masl
Process: Fully washed

Notes from our import partner, Shared Source:

Jose is a member of the ASOPEP cooperative (Asociación de Productores Ecológicos de Planadas), and we’re proud to have purchased his coffee for several harvest seasons. ASOPEP is located in Planadas, one of the most interesting coffee towns in Colombia. This region was the birthplace of one of the biggest rebel groups in Colombia – FARC (born in Marquetalia, one of their villages), and as a result of its isolation with a lack of road access, many producers in this region began to develop their own models of territorial development. The region has exceptional agro-climatic conditions, with coffees from 1,300 to 2,180 masl, hosting a range of different varieties, varietals and farm processes.

ASOPEP is a very young organization, founded in 2013. There are 318 associated families –202 coffee producers and 116 cocoa producers. They are all small farms, with women managing the household and farming operations as well as the youngest generation fully involved in the coffee production. Camilo Enciso, leader of the association, has a clear vision for the group: create opportunities for the personal growth of its members, protect the environment, innovate in commercial business processes and being always a leader in specialty coffee worldwide. As such, education is one of the main focuses of ASOPEP: each member receives extensive training and capacitation to ensure they produce high quality coffees. The group also champions home-made organic fertilizers and biological controls of fungicides and pesticides that go way beyond what is required by organic certifiers. The group is deeply committed to soil and water preservation, and the sustainable development of their community.

Aside from having some of the healthiest and most thriving small farms around, the members of ASOPEP are equally as passionate about cup quality. This is not only from a socio-economic point of view, but because they are passionate and excited craftsmen and craftswomen. We’ve never seen so many children of producers wanting to stay on the farm and run the family business. The founders of ASOPEP have done a great job investing in farm management and quality processing. Many children of producers travel for hours to come to the HQ every week to train in roasting and cupping, and we’re thrilled with the quality of the microlots that they’re producing. We’ve lost count of the amount of humidity and brix meters we’ve filled our suitcases with for them, and they are putting them to great use.

Asopep has also formed a school for children in the region, and it trains young people in cupping, quality control and barista skills along with business management and education in science and technology. By empowering youth, ASOPEP is helping to transform Planadas through education and optimism in the future. The association also receives support from ONG’s to study English and travel to participate in trade shows so that the youngest generation stays motivated to work with coffee and ensure the future of the industry. Working alongside ecologically-focused smallholder producers to cultivate unconventional coffee. 

FARM MANAGEMENT Jose’s 7 hectare farm is organic certified, and he practices holistic and regenerative farming. Of his 7 hectares, only 3.5 hectares are dedicated to coffee- he also has a hectare producing sugar cane to process into organic panela; the rest of the farm is left as a natural forest and to protect the natural spring water source on his land. He currently has about 4500 yellow caturra and 8000 variedad Colombia trees planted, all separated by varietal. He manages several fermented brews to control for diseases and fungi, adding micro-organisms from deeply decomposed organic matter to return micro-nutrients to the soil. He has a careful wastewater system, involving several tanks and a filtration system to keep his water source from getting contaminated, and he removes the honey water mucilage to apply it to the cherry pulp compost to help it to decompose more quickly.

PROCESSING This lot is the result of many experiments Jose has done on farm. Cherries are picked at their respective optimum ripeness levels and fermented under cool and controlled conditions. After a 24-36 hour cherry-ferment, the cherries are floated to remove over- and under-ripe beans. From there, it’s depulped, and fermented for a further 36 hours in an open tank (this time depends on the weather, he tastes the coffee as it ferments to know when it is time to wash). From there, it’s placed in the first dryer covered with a white plastic that allows the sunlight to come through, where it’s left to drip dry a bit more quickly (to control for mold). From there, it’s placed in a raised dryer under the shade, where it continues to slowly dry for another 3 weeks or so on the covered beds.