Monteblanco Pink Bourbon Fruit Juice is the latest processing innovation from the team at Aromas del Sur. The story of Monteblanco is one of experimentation and exploration, of asking questions and carefully figuring out the answers. Rodrigo Sanchez and his team started out with curiosity and developed an entirely new system for harvesting and processing coffees.
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 facilities 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 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, where he discovered various varieties his grandfather had planted in the 1980’s.
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 at 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.
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 Gesha. In the cup, the coffee he harvested also tasted like those of Gesha. 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.
Fruit Juice Anaerobic Washed Processing
During the harvest, all coffees are measured for their degrees Brix to determine sugar content and allocate them to the best-suited processing method. Cherries with 26° Brix are chosen for Fruit Juice Anaerobic Washed processing. First, floater cherries are removed and the remaining healthy cherries are placed in sealed tanks with zero oxygen for 100 hours, roughly four days.
Next, cherries are depulped and the beans are returned to the sealed tanks for another 60 hours. Once the temperature has reached 38°C and the pH is 4.6, the coffee is thoroughly washed and transferred to the drying stage. Beans dry in the solar dryer for three to four days and are then placed on raised beds in the shaded dryer for 20-25 days until they reach 10.5-11% humidity.
Read more about coffee processing at Monteblanco and the story of the farm.