Our first visit was to the Perhusa Dry Mill, where we were treated to an amazing tour of their impressive facility. We also had the pleasure to cup some truly outstanding coffees. From there we had a harrowing 10 hour car ride to Jaen, the closest town to the fincas of El Cautivo and El Caupe that we planned to visit.
The visits with these farmers and their families were the most memorable of the trip, and an experience I immediately knew I wanted to share with the Caffè Umbria family.
Finca El Cautivo was only thirty miles away, but the poor condition of the road meant a careful and deliberate pace - it took us over two hours to travel. When we arrived, we were greeted by the whole community with handmade signs and joyous music and laughter. They were truly excited to see us and had many things both to tell and ask us. Their houses were built out of mud bricks they had made themselves and I was told they received electricity for the first time only a few months prior to our visit. The community shares use of one car, whose main use is transporting coffee. Most supplies are either carried by hand or by a team of donkeys down the 30 mile stretch of road back to Jaen to be processed.
I have read about the challenging conditions that coffee farmers face, but seeing it with my own eyes really made me understand how driven they are by the passion they have for the land and for their craft. Living far away from civilization, harvesting and pruning coffee trees on tremendously steep inclines, and hours of manual labor (like manually de-pulping coffee cherries) requires a strong commitment to community and crop. These farmers are truly proud of their product and constantly looking for methods to improve both the quality of their coffee and their lives. I have a new respect for every bean I grind, brew & taste and look forward to sharing the stories of the people who grow and harvest our coffees.
Stefano is a Coffee Quality Specialist at Caffè Umbria