Farm info

Finca Monteblanco, located high along the winding mountain roads of Vereda La Tocora in the San Adolfo municipality above Pitalito, is a family farm managed by Rodrigo Sanchez Valencia in the tradition of coffee cultivation that began with his grandfather. Monteblanco’s 18 hectares sit on the crest of a hill, with the wetmill and drying beds at the top of the farm and slopes of coffee planted below.

In 2002, Rodrigo participated in a local program teaching local children of coffee producers to cup. Before that, he and his family had never considered coffee in terms of cup profile. By learning to differentiate profiles, he and his father and grandfather were able to able to make the connections between the farming techniques they applied and coffee’s attributes in the cup. At this time, Rodrigo also began to learn about cupping competitions that evaluate the best lots from farms in a region. He noticed that farms would win one year and then never again, so he decided to investigate how to produce quality coffee consistently. This led him to explore the trees planted on Monteblanco, were he discovered various varieties his grandfather had planted in the 1980’s.

In addition to the varieties most common in Colombia, Rodrigo found there were trees he had not noticed before, trees with different characteristics, including broad leaves that looked like Geisha. In the cup, the coffee he harvested also tasted like those of Geisha. This was the beginning of Pink Bourbon lot separation. Rodrigo learned that his grandfather had bought those seedlings in San Adolfo during the early 80’s during a leaf rust attack of la roya when he had to replace a portion of the farm’s trees.

In San Adolfo and Palestina, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation ran an experimental farm in the 50’s and 60’s planted with 500 varieties, so Rodrigo and his grandfather think the trees probably originated from that farm. In 2014, Rodrigo planted three hectares of Monteblanco with Pink Bourbon and was delighted with its adaptability, productivity, and resistance to leaf rust. The cherries ripen to a rosy pink/orange color, giving name to this unique coffee variety.

The Cherry processing used for this lot is a mixed 120 hour fermentation. Cherries are collected once they reach 28° Brix, with a pH of 6.3 at the time of harvest. Floaters are separated out and cherries are deposited in tanks for 60 hours of fermentation in cherry. Next, coffee is depulped and dry fermented for another 60 hours. Once the beans reach 35°C and a pH of 3.7, they are fully washed and dried for four days in the parabolic dryer before being transferred to shaded raised beds to dry for another fifteen days.

Rodrigo is proud that he, his wife Claudia Samboni, farm manager Don Gerardo, and the team that works in the fields and at the mill have reached the goal of achieving consistent quality. Each harvest, Finca Monteblanco produces microlots that serve as competition coffees around the world, but the farm also consistently produces containers of delicious coffees that appear year-round on café menus and retail shelves. By applying an ethic of rigorous monitoring, planning, and management of each stage of production and processing, all coffees from Monteblanco showcase their full potential.

Harvesting and processing on Monteblanco have had to evolve with the times, adapting to a changing climate that yields harvest dispersed through ten months of the year rather than in a concentrated peak. Coffees from Monteblanco are milled and prepared for export at the new, state of the art Aromas del Sur drymill in Pitalito.

Read more about Finca Monteblanco on the Ally Coffee blog.

Region

Huila

The Colombian Department of Huila is located in the southern portion of the country where the Central and Eastern ranges of the Andes mountains converge. Huila’s capitol city of Neiva is dry, flat, and desert-like, markedly different from the coffee regions further south.

Centered around the city of Pitalito, Huila’s coffee farms are predominately smallholder owned and over the past ten years have made consorted efforts to produce specialty coffee that reveals the full character of the region’s terroir. Selective manual harvesting, attentive processing, and careful post-harvest sorting all contribute to increasing recognition of the region.

Huila’s Departmental coffee committee, the local connection to the national Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, has invested notable resources into training producers in everything from fertilization to roasting. This, combined with producer enthusiasm, has created a regional culture of quality-focused production.

Huila holds important historic significance dating back to pre-Columbian cultures. The archaeological site at San Agustin includes a large number of stone carvings, figures, and artifacts that offer a rare glimpse into the land’s past prior to colonialism.