This year, our Reserva lot of El Jordan comes from one producer: Javier Cruz. He cultivated this coffee on a farm under two hectares in size. His attention to detail and hard work produced an extraordinary harvest. Once again, his coffee is proof of a working relationship where the coffee continually improves.
In the Central Mountain range of Colombia’s Andes Mountains, nestled beneath the shadows of the magnificent Nevado del Huila within the Tolima province, lies the small town of Gaitania de Planadas, home to the coffee growers responsible for all of our El Jordan lots. These coffee producers were all members of the coffee producers cooperative APCEJOR, or ‘Asociación de Productores de Café Especial El Jordan’. They resolved to start the co-op with the aim of entering the specialty coffee market in order to improve their income and strengthen their community. Recently, APCEJOR merged with ACEDGA, another producers association, to form the Macizo cooperative.
Nevado del Huila, an active volcano, is a beautiful snow-capped mountain with a summit which lies 5,365 meters above sea level. Due to the volcanic activity, the area surrounding the Nevado del Huila is among the most fertile in Colombia and provides an excellent microclimate for growing coffee. Numerous rivers are born in the hills of the Nevado and wildlife species inhabit the slopes. In spite of having one of the most beautiful and best coffee growing conditions in the country, the geographic conditions ensure that the region remains quite inaccessible. Gaitania is located only 100 km from Neiva and 250 km from Ibague, yet it can take more than six hours to travel there over steep hills and rugged roads. A long history of influence from guerrilla groups that have controlled the region for over 40 years increased the inaccessibility of the region. Despite these challenges, the coffee producers of Gaitania continue cultivating their coffee with pride and care.
In 2003, a project began with the coffee producers of APCEJOR which helped them maximize the potential of their coffee through education and training. In 2009, they installed a full cupping lab in Gaitania where each lot of coffee is cupped and analyzed. This provides instant feedback so that the producers can continue to improve the quality. The coffee pickers are paid higher premiums ensuring only ripe cherries are harvested. The producers depulp their coffee into fermentation tanks using hand cranked depulping machines. They are naturally fermented for 18-20 hours in tanks, washed and then dried on parabolic drying beds. As a consequence of the education and the good prices they have received, producers have built new solar driers in their farms so that they can properly dry their coffee even when the weather is wet and humid, which is very common in Gaitania.