Huila is arguably Colombia’s best-known department for top microlots. Huila’s geographical accessibility, dense population of knowledgeable farmers, warm and subtropical forests, high elevations, and microclimate diversity have for many years sustained one of specialty coffee’s most beloved regions. Huila is a long and narrow valley that follows a winding gap between two large cords of the Andes. Uphill from the valley’s lush and picturesque lower slopes (Colombia’s 950-mile long Magdalena River has its source in southern Huila and has shaped the agriculture here for centuries) are a diverse array of coffee producing communities, often dramatically steep, and each with their own unique climate and history.
Angelo Sosa’s farm, “El Cielo”, is 10 hectares in size and gets 2 harvests each calendar year: a main crop between October-December; and another smaller crop in the summer. Tabi, the dominant cultivar on Angelo’s farm is a uniquely Colombian cultivar bred by Cenicafé, Colombia’s federal coffee research department, and is a blend of bourbon, typica, and timor hybrid genetics. Natural process coffees at El Cielo are picked by hand and fermented in tanks for 24 hours to allow sugars to peak, and then dried for 7-16 days on raised screens.
Drying coffee in Angelo’s community can be treacherous due to year-round humidity. Angelo is working with the guidance of InConexus, his longtime exporter, to establish a quality laboratory in a drying plant in nearby Garzón. The plant is managed by InConexus but does not yet have a working quality laboratory; the lab would allow Angelo to not only dry his coffee in a more reliable climate, but also to extend quality analysis services to other nearby growers. Angelo has been studying sensory analysis and coffee grading with InConexus in order to better manage his own coffee quality, using his palate as a feedback tool for his harvest management. His new skill will likely provide value to many other growers as well.
InConexus is a specialty exporter and relationship management company that works directly with growers in 7 of Colombia’s departments. InConexus manages local purchasing hubs throughout the departments where they work. The hubs buy parchment or dried naturals directly from growers, intaking coffee through a rigorous quality classification and pricing system tied to cup score. Once assessed, deliveries are blended under micro-brands or sold as single-farm lots (such as Angelo’s) and marketed around the world. InConexus prides itself on prioritizing direct knowledge between producers, importers and roasters, hosting multiple auction events or educational summits each year to expose producers to the wider market, and vice versa.