Hacienda San Alberto is an advanced, family-owned and run coffee farm in the small village of Buenavista smack in Colombia’s coffee heartland. Juan Pablo puts great care in the lot selection to compose microlots with distinctive profiles for each different part of the farm. The Wall consists of an assemblage of cherries harvested from a lot planted with Castillo (45%) and Caturra (55%). He will cup through many different samples and combine only a selected few day lots to achieve the profile he has in mind.
Cherries for this lot were harvested during June from 2 plots between 1600m and 1700m on the farm. End of May – start of June usually represents the height of the harvest for Hacienda San Alberto. This is when the trees are heavy with the tastiest and juiciest cherries, and full of potential for excellent microlots. With variable weather patterns, this moment can shift to April – May or even July.
The farm lies on the flank of a hill and therefore covers quite an altitude range. This makes the different plots of the farm ready for harvesting in subsequent periods and not all at the same time. This leaves enough time for the pickers to focus on a few lots at a time and to harvest on maturity with high precision. After a day’s harvest, the cherries are brought to the farm’s wet mill where the qualities are separated by flotation. Floaters are separated into a different hopper with lower grades, not destined for export. The cherries that sank move on to the cherry selection tables where a trained team manually removes not fully red cherries before moving to the pulping step. A mechanical depulper and mucilage removal machine takes off most of the fruit around the coffee bean. Mechanical mucilage removal reduces the fermentation time and the amount of water needed for washing. The finest selection of deep red cherry, often selected from only 1 or 2 harvesting days, will go through a quick fermentation overnight. When the mucilage has broken down sufficiently, pumps suck up the parchment and blast it into a second tank. The friction greatly helps remove the sticky fruit.
Prior to drying, the sorting team does another visual inspection of the wet parchment before it moves to the parabolic driers. After pre-drying, the batch is loaded in the top level of the mechanical drier. The type of mechanical drier San Alberto uses is heated by burning milled parchment instead of carbon. The hot air is blown into a five-meter high drying tower with three levels, in which the temperature never surpasses 40°C. Each level has a hatch, through which the parchment is moved to a lower level after seven hours to nine hours. By moving around the parchment like this, the coffee dries in a soft and homogenous way.
Extremely important in this process is the dedication of the night staff, who could just as well get a couple of hours sleep extra by speeding up the process. After eighteen to twenty hours, the coffee reaches the desired moisture of 11% and is put in grainpro bags with their corresponding traceability tag. Storing the parchment in grainpro is an additional measure to protect the coffee against the relatively high humidity in the area. The bags go to the bodega for a resting period of eight days to stabilize.
In the next step, the second team comes into action. A sample is sent for evaluation both to Almacafe and the farm’s own lab for the final step in the selection. Based on the cupping results, the final decision is made whether or not a lot belongs in the selection of San Alberto’s finest coffees. Feedback goes back and forth between José Jaír’s team and Juan Pablo’s to understand the results, after which each lot in its respective category goes to the FNC warehouses, where the storage conditions are less humid.
As a common denominator, the Hacienda San Alberto coffees have a big body and upfront sweetness.
A NOTE FROM IMPORTER: An example with tangible numbers for this lot “The Wall”. The FOB price we agreed on with Juan Pablo and San Alberto this year was $3.6/lb, or the equivalent in kilo price $7.94/kg. This number corresponds to roughly 70% of the selling price you find on our price list, being paid back to origin.