Origin Information

Juan Francisco Alfonzo Ortiz Sepulveda
Chachagüí, Nariño, Colombia
June 2020
1975 masl
Volcanic loam
Macerated Natural: Coffee cherries sealed and cured in airtight environment to macerate for 4 days, then dried on raised beds and finished in a final mechanical dryer.

Background Details

The Andes of northern Nariño create a rugged and broad landscape for coffee with high altitudes and steep slopes. The department’s coffee producers are overwhelmingly small and remote, which until the past decade kept them largely undiscovered in Colombia’s microlot market. The municipalities of Buesaco and La Unión, not far from Chachagüí, were some of the first municipalities to gain international attention with competition-winning coffees, bringing buyers with strong beliefs in the potential of Nariño’s high altitudes, volcanic soil composition (the department has 6 of Colombia’s 16 volcanoes), and willing producers. Finca La Paz, belonging to Juan Francisco Alfonso Ortiz Sepulveda and his family, is a member farm in Café Occidente, Nariño’s formidable coffee growers’ union. Café Occidente has around 2000 associate producers, 20 purchasing stations and 8 storage warehouses across the department. La Paz is located in the community of Casabuy, just west of the town of Chachagüí.  Prior to setting the cherry to dry at La Paz, Juan utilizes a curing step that until recently was almost unheard of, but is becoming more common among quality-minded producers. This involves bagging cherry just after picking and allowing the whole fruit to cure in a low-light, low-oxygen environment for multiple days. At La Paz cherry is bagged this way for 4 days before being dried in a combination of shaded raised beds and mechanical drying drums. The effect of the curing stage, when done well, often creates a concentrated tartness in the final cup reminiscent of pickled plum or cherry syrup. In an otherwise high-elevation, complex coffee such as this one, the note adds a certain kick to the rest of the coffee’s balance, which arrived tasting like dessert wine, dried cherry, and chocolate.  Azahar Coffee, the sourcing company and exporter of Juan’s coffee, originally began as a specialty roaster and coffee boutique in Bogotá serving Colombia’s top quality microlots to a developing local consumer base. In time, Azahar began making international connections to their farmer contacts and exporting green coffee, with top traceability and ambitious price transparency, to select buyers in a few northern markets.  The business has evolved to what is now a very sophisticated exporting model. Azahar partners with local grower organizations to identify coffees and producers of the highest potential, pull these aside from the usual export stream, and market them directly to buyers internationally on a quality-based pricing scale. The net effect of the intervention is often significantly more money than a farm could receive without the added exposure and marketing. Through Azahar, countless farms and communities are being uncovered and sold globally with traceability not experienced before.