At the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, lies the Magdalena coffee zone.
The region is home to great biodiversity and boasts an ecosystem with the ideal environmental conditions for the production of specialty coffee. Most of the coffee producing communities are Indigenous Aruhuaco, descendants of the Tairona civilisation, one of the most advanced pre-Colombian civilisations, dating from at least the 1st Century CE. The Tayronaca group has achieved USDA Organic, EU Organic, Fair Trade and UTZ certifications.
Tayronaca producers are overwhelmingly small-holders who manage their own self-sufficient wet-mills and patios (open or covered) for drying. Currently composed of 316 producers farming a total of 3,007.2 total hectares (426.8 of which are under coffee), the average farm size is quite substantial compared to other departments in Colombia. The average member has around 9.5 hectares total, 1.35 of which is under coffee. Farmers cultivate their trees, primarily the traditional varieties of Typica and Bourbon, under shade with average densities of 4,800 plants per hectare. Coffee production in the region is characterised by large cherries and beans, thanks to the constant presence of rains between the flowering and the ripening periods. Cup quality also tends to be quite high due the level of technical assistance that many farming families receive from regional organisations.
Most families do their own harvesting - usually with the help of neighbours. After the red and ripe cherries are picked, they are pulped by passing them through a manual pulper at the family farm (usually located close to the main house). The waste from this process will be used later as a natural fertilizer for the coffee trees. Depending on the conditions fermentation can range between 12 up to 48 hours.
For most of Asociación Tayronaca, coffee cultivation is their main means of economic sustenance. Some also cultivate sugarcane, but other than these crops, all other agriculture and activities are for household consumption. For the most part, individual families live separately on their farms rather than clustered in the community centre. Houses vary in shape, size and construction material, which depends on the weather, but many have distinct roofs of woven grass that are ubiquitous in the region.
Varietal: Typica & Colombia
Process: Fully washed & dried in patios
Altitude: 1,800 to 1,700 metres above sea level
Body: Medium to good
Tasting notes: Chocolate/peanut aroma, sweet grapefruit and orange, chocolate on finish, smooth body
Certifications: USDA Organic, EU Organic, UTZ, Fair trade
Source: John Burton, Mercanta Coffee Hunter
Image source: https://johnburton.co.nz/coffee-origins/regions/colombia-fairtrade-organic-tayronaca/