Out of stock
Esther Fernandez Mondragon
Bourbon, Catuai, and Catimor
Colasay district, Jaen province, Cajamarca region, Peru
May - September
In Peru by far the bulk of coffee production comes from small farms owned and managed by people who have for many years followed organic farm management practice attuned to their cultural connection with the land. Producers typically cultivate coffee on just a few acres of land intercropped with shade trees, fruits and vegetables. Small producers are often very careful about picking and sorting their cherry prior to depulping, fermenting, washing, and drying the coffee, all on personal equipment and on personal property. While producers design farm management and post-harvest solutions to fit their varying needs, they also need a strong business alliance to bring their coffee to the international market and earn fair prices, regardless if the coffees are blended or sold independently.
This particular lot of coffee comes from a single producer named Esther Fernandez Mondragon. Esther’s farm is in the La Higuera community of Colasay, part of the district of Huabal, in the mountains northwest of the region’s main trading city of Jaén. Esther first purchased her property in 2014 and currently has about 2,500 coffee plants spread across her 1.5 hectares. She is the third generation in her family to cultivate coffee and sees the trade not only as a small business for herself but also as a source of work for the younger generations of the remote area where she lives. (Esther herself is in her late-40s, considered young for a coffee farmer in Peru.)
Esther employs a few pickers during harvest months and oversees all processing herself on her property. Coffee is depulped with a motorized pulping machine and fermented under water for 42 hours in a handmade wooden tank. After fermentation is complete, parchment is washed again with clean water and moved to dry in a combination of covered patio and solar dryer, a process that takes about 20 days to complete.
This single-farmer microlot come to us from Origin Coffee Lab, an exemplary alliance recently established in Peru’s competitive north. The small team put together by José Rivera and Alex Julca--career cuppers, farmers, exporters, and quality managers who grew up in Peru’s sought-after northern coffee terroir--is quickly gaining a reputation for their outstanding portfolio of microlot coffees and above-expectations regional blends. Which should be no surprise, given the founders have decades of experience working with farmers of all kinds and cupping thousands of samples from across the Cajamarca region. So, they know what they’re aiming for. Origin Coffee Lab uses their extensive experience to set high standards for farms, with generous price premiums in place for those who rise to the occasion. But it’s not simply a take-it-or-leave-it proposition: their “Solidario” program is a curriculum that teaches best practices in farm management and processing to help small farmers maximize their quality, and profit. Farmers in northern Cajamarca province, which includes districts like Chirinos, San Ignacio, and Huabal, all famous for great coffee, certainly have their choice of exporter. So the growing partnerships for Origin Coffee Lab and the popularity of their coffees signal that they clearly are offering something worthwhile to top farmers. Not only do they compensate their farmers very well, they also provide complete price transparency to their buyers. Esther was paid the equivalent of $3.23/lb for green, exportable coffee.