Position Future Shipment
Out of stock
The Rodriguez family | Finca Tacu
1450 – 1650 masl
Samaipata, Santa Cruz department, Bolivia
Full natural and dried on raised beds
June - November
Specialty groups like Agricafe deserve a lot of credit for their dedication to Bolivia's coffee potential, despite the odds. Agricafe was established in 1986 as a passion project by Pedro Rodriguez, who at that time was a banker whose love for coffee led him to start a small commercial grade exporting business. In 2012, 26 years later, Rodriguez acquired land of his own in Caranavi, a town in Bolivia’s warm and tropical eastern Andean foothills, part of a unique transitional climate region known as “Los Yungas”. This part of Bolivia had for decades been populated with indigenous smallholder coffee farmers, but after suffering multiple waves of disinvestment by the government the population was shrinking, and coffee in particular was close to extinction. Rodriguez’s original farm, La Linda, was meant to take advantage of affordable land in the area and to demonstrate to local smallholders specifically how productivity could be increased for their benefit. Now, 10 years after La Linda was built, the family business includes 12 family farms between Caranavi and Samaipata, to the south, and a group of 100 smallholders who together comprise Agricafe’s “Sol de la Mañana” program. Pedro’s daughter Daniela and son Pedro Pablo are also part of the business, managing commercial operations and farmer training.
The Samaipata area Rodriguez farms are the first coffee plantations in the region. Samaipata, part of Bolivia’s widespread Santa Cruz department, is flatter and dryer than the Yungas region with well-developed industries for wine, natural gas extraction, and commodity crops like sugar, cotton, soybeans and rice. The establishment of coffee farms here by the Rodriguez family was a kind of revelation for Bolivia, who in the past 10 years has started to acknowledge its identity as a producer of specialty coffee. Occupying the same landscape as vineyards puts coffee’s potential on a similar level in the eyes of Santa Cruz department’s generally cosmopolitan and touristic populations.
This natural processed java cultivar comes from Finca Tacu, one of the Rodriguez’s 4 farms around Samaipata. Bolivia’s “java” cultivar is a lighter weight coffee with a long-bean shape and delicate cups. Though rare, Latin America has a number of typica-derived “java” plant types that are believed to have evolved from the arabica plantations of the Dutch-occupied island of Java in what is now Indonesia. Because of a lack of domestic coffee sector or governmental support, acquiring new varieties of coffee for the Rodriguez family involved traveling throughout South America and connecting with other advanced growers and breeders. Their unique java has become a kind of darling cultivar to the Rodriguez family, who uses specific fermentation tactics in fully washed processing to maximize its textures and flavors in the cup, and who loves the results of a sun-dried natural. Unlike at their central wet mill in Caranavi, naturals in Samaipata can be safely fully dried on raised beds in the sun.
Bolivia is South America's only landlocked coffee producing country and is the smallest exporter of coffee on the continent. The quality of that coffee, however, is hardly lacking in diversity or beauty. While the most productive municipality in Bolivia is by far Caranavi, which still produces an estimated 85-90% of Bolivia's specialty coffee, the Rodriguez family has had a lot of success in Samaipata, where they admit the climate is much more forgiving for coffee production; not to mention the curious local consumers.
Biodiversity, soil health, elevation, and progressive leadership in Agricafe all work undeniably in coffee’s favor. But of course, facing each and every Bolivian coffee, especially the best ones, is one of the most strenuous overland transits in the coffee world, passing elevations of 4000 meters over the top of the Andes and west to the port of Arica on Chile’s coast. The country’s low production, select few producer groups in the specialty game, and formidable logistical challenges, means each and every arrival is something to be cherished.