This wonderful coffee was brought to us through our friend Brendan at Semilla Coffee. This information is courtesy of him:
Producer: Diever Galindez
Variety: Pink Bourbon
Farm: Las Juntas
Location: Alto Las Chinas San Agustín, Huila
Altitude: 1800 masl
Farm size: 3.75 hectares in total, 3 hectares planted with coffee
Harvest: Late main harvest 2023. Harvested August - November, shipped December 2023.
Cherries are collected for three days in a row, every 21 days. The coffee from the first and second day are left to ferment for one and two days respectively before all of the coffee is depulped together on the third day with the coffee that is picked that day.
Once all of the coffee is de-puled it is left to dry ferment for 20 hours in ceramic tiled tanks. The coffee is then washed and then left to drain for a few hours before being moved into a solar dryer for 15-20 days.
Farmgate price: 2,500,000 Colombian Pesos per carga
National farmgate price November 2023: 1,400,000 Colombian Pesos per carga
FOB price: $3.42USD/lb
Born and raised in Las Delicias, a village that is 2,100 meters above sea level near the Colombian massif, Diever was raised by his mother and maternal grandparents without a father in his childhood. He only studied up to fifth grade because in his words, he liked to fight. As a child he replaced his studies with various jobs around the house such as getting grass for the guinea pigs, putting the calves away and preparing the week's firewood to heat the oven on Mondays.
In 1991 when he was 15 years old, his father brought him to the village of El Tabor to train in a course related to coffee for 6 months. Diever was scolded for not paying attention in the classes and because of this he felt offended and made the decision to return to Las Delicias by foot, walking for 6-hours to get back home.
Once back in Las Delicias he began to work with bean and tomato crops under a 3x2 exchange modality in which he worked 3 days on neighboring farms and then 2 days on his own plots. After two years of this though, he felt this way of working wasn’t equitable for him and made the decision to move to the village of El Rosario to grow potatoes and tomatoes with his uncle. With the earnings of the first harvest equivalent to $30,000, they went on a walk to the Las Lajas Sanctuary in the department of Nariño.
In 1996, unfortunately, his uncle died and he returned to Las Delicias for another 4 years. Then in 2000, his father Pablo Absalón Guzmán called on him on a Monday to meet him in Vereda Las Chinas that day. When he arrived to meet his father he was granted an inheritance of half an hectare of uncultivated land. Diever was not impressed by this and told his father to sell it and give him the money so that he could continue growing beans and tomatoes in Las Delicias. To this his father refuted, saying that this land was for him to work. So they began to prepare tools to knock down the stubble, prepare seeds and plant 2,250 Caturra trees. This was the beginning of what would eventually become Finca Las Juntas. While preparing the land and tending to the seedlings Diever continued working on other farms tending to goats and invested everything he earned in his little plot.
In 2001 he made the decision to go with a neighbor to work in Putumayo for a year and a half, leaving his lot in the care of the family. After some not very good experiences made him return to San Agustín, he continued again farming beans and tomatoes and taking care of his little coffee lot.
In the middle of 2002 he met his future wife Estela Guzmán and that year they formalized their relationship and began to work hard together. Their main idea was to be able to expand the coffee farm and during the following 4 years they managed to buy a few very small plots of land from their neighbors, thanks to some savings and a loan that they had from the Agrarian Bank. Their dream was realized and the small lots acquired have now formed the Las Juntas farm that we know today.
As is common in the beginning, their production of both wet and dry coffee was sold locally in the town square to whoever was there to buy it. Finally, in 2010 after selling for many years in the local market for absurdly low prices they were able to join the Los Naranjos group and access a slightly differentiated market for their coffees within the conventional specialty modality.
Over the years, due to the hardships of managing coffee leaf rust on their Caturra and with hopes to improve the cup quality, Diever and Estela decided to look for a more resistant and productive variety with which to replace their suffering Caturra. Their first investment was a purchase of 700 new Pink Bourbon trees from the San Adolfo region of Huila. Since that time they have used those plants to propagate new seedlings that they have planted throughout the farm.
To date, this is the breakdown of the 3 hectares they have planted:
- 700 Pink Bourbon trees, 8 years old
- 2,500 Pink Bourbon trees, 6 years old
- 700 Pink Bourbon trees, 4 years old
- 1,400 Pink Bourbon, 3 years old
- 640 Geisha trees, 3 years old
- 1,400 Cogollo Rojo trees, 6 years old
- 500 Castillo trees, 5 years old
- 2,100 Pink Bourbon trees, 1 year old
Monkaaba is a smallholder coffee grower empowerment initiative based in San Agustin and led by Esnaider Ortega Gomez and select other growers who have worked for many years to sell their coffee as specialty. Many of them are associated loosely or directly with the Los Naranjos group and have in recent years begun to feel that they would like to develop more autonomy over the coffee production as well as involvement in its marketing and sale.
Monkaaba’s goal then is to assist other growers in the area to not only find a better market for their coffee, one that pays a solid price, but also to invest in the knowledge and skill of producers in a way that ensures their future success.
The idea for this came to Esnaider thanks to his experience over the last ten years working as a sample roaster and cupper. While he was always happy to see producers receive a solid price for their coffees through this exporter, he noticed that there was very little understanding at the buyer level of what went into coffee production. Too often he watched coffees produced by people he knew be rejected due to a single cupping session, and for this producer to receive little explanation of why it was rejected or what could be improved. What worried him the most was how this process could be confusing or demotivating to producers seeking to enter the specialty market, and he knew there had to be many who were being overlooked as a result.
Over Semilla’s time getting to know Esnaider, he has been nothing but concerned in the overall well being of all coffee producers in Huila. Rather than focusing only on his own success as a grower, he wants to see all those around him engaged in sustainable, meaningful relationships. Now with Monkaaba, he commits himself to this on the daily. Not only does he hold weekly cupping sessions for all producers who would like to have their samples evaluated, but he also invites all those willing and interested to come and cup alongside him.
The early results have been amazing as he’s collected coffees from all over the area and hosted growers of all levels of experience and age at his farm, to cup and to discuss in depth about their goals and dreams and challenges. This type of project, we believe, is vital to the future of specialty coffee as a whole and is exactly what Semilla always seeks to support. We wish to see producers engaged in learning about their own product and understanding how to improve it, while our role is then to give feedback and to serve as a conduit of this work to you, the roaster, such that we can develop stronger, more authentic relationships together.
A Note from Esnaider on Monkaaba
“This last year has seen a very unique change in my life. After producing coffee with my family for many years, I decided to focus my efforts not only in producing and marketing our coffees but I wanted to go further with a group of friends.
My friend Brendan Adams of Semilla coffee gave us the opportunity to be able to learn, work, and grow together in this great dream, looking for a real impact in the coffee supply chain. It was a big change in my life, with moments of despair and discomfort, because many times we felt we were trying to make a change in a system where trust had been lost. This system, in which I have felt for a long time and where I am more than sure now, where we as small producers have been like instruments for companies — big or small — where they are only trying to protect their own interests while we’re left to carry a very high percentage of the risks.
The curious thing about it all is to continue hearing lots of people saying that they want a change, where the really important people are the producers but deep down, we don’t know what their intentions are. They say we’re important but still they’re not ready to share the risks.
On the other hand, this year gave me the chance to share and learn from producers who have dedicated all their life to this great work. To hear their experiences helped me to understand a little about the past and how until today there has been no significant or equitable change in our region where we have produced coffee for more than 50 years, where the biggest problem continues being the lack of good sales
channels. I also shared stories with young people and to hear their short but emotional experiences — where they let us enter into their lives, to share a coffee in their houses and always make us feel welcomed like we were family, to know their dreams in coffee, where they always are looking for a real change that will bring us to a better quality of life — this is what makes us continue ahead, armed with strong belief in this project where we want to achieve real relationships.
Today more than ever I feel committed, not only with myself and my family but also with local friends and producers because they have put their trust and vision in us.”