Colombia is in third place in the ranking of coffee producing countries in the world and is one of the most famous and prestigious, due to the fact that it is recognized as a quality coffee producing country, a fact that is not impute in vain, because it has excellent weather conditions and fertile soils throughout its coffee axis.
Our project will be developed in the department of Huila located in the southwest of Colombia, in the Andean region. This area has the largest volume of production in the country and agriculture is one of the main economic activities, with coffee being one of the most important products. Huila is known worldwide for the production of a high quality product since it meets the ideal conditions for its production: mild temperatures of 17 to 23 ºC, heights of 1200 to 1800 meters and volcanic soils.
Our project started in 2017 thanks to the Cooperativa Central de Agricultores del Huila, a non-profit and social interest association. This organization brings together partners from seven municipalities and have a strong commitment to both sustainability and the community and its progress.
To do this, in our first year of working together, we selected nine young coffee growers and eager to learn new techniques and do different things. Our idea was to share knowledge, carry out formations and start conducting experiments in fermentation changes.
Year after year and with the good reception of the results obtained in the international market, more and more producers are interested in participating in the project.
In recent years we have been observing that in the world of specialty coffee roasters and baristas are looking for an exclusive product for their coffee shops. They want to surprise their customers by offering different flavors and experiences than they are used to. That is why we think about starting to carry out experiments in the plantations of small producers in the Huila area in Colombia, with the help of their Cooperativa de Caficultores.
Our main objective with these experiments is that the coffee growers of this department can adapt their production to meet the new demands that we see demanded by the specialty coffee market worldwide and also with the goal of rapid adaptation to new trends. that we have observed in consumer countries, value this region as a symbol of quality, knowledge and versatility.
In order to carry out these experiments, we have decided to focus on the modification of fermentation times and other variables such as, for example, its temperature. Through many trial-error trials we have observed which were the most appropriate times for each type of coffee and which managed to improve its flavor markedly (in many cases achieving an increase of 4 or 5 points in its general assessment).
The experiments have been carried out with two fairly typical varieties in this area of Colombia, such as Caturra and Castillo. With these variables that we have selected to carry out the experiments, we have carried out an analysis of which different bacteria act in the fermentation according to time and temperature and what are the organoleptic characteristics that each one contributes to coffee in its different states.
During the years in which we have carried out the research, we have carried out a parallel training with all the agents who are involved in this project. The most important courses that our team has taught have been those of Green Coffee Analysis, Cupping and other specialized courses in fermentation processes in which all the results we have been achieving have been analyzed and tasted.
Training has been one of the fundamental pillars to generate confidence among the producers towards the project and to be open to changes and also so that the different people involved can distinguish a fermentation from an over-fermentation, since these experiments have been playing with extremes and limits to also get exceptional flavors and know how far we can go with the same coffee plant.
The results of the tests that we have carried out during this year of experimentation and training in the Huila area have been very positive, since we have managed to ensure that the same coffee in which the fermentation process has been varied has grown to 4 points of its global classification.
With this we see that another window is opened to the classification of coffee, if previously we only focused on the processes of beneficiation, now we have to have new classification variables.