Owner: Echavarria family
Altitude: 1,700 metres above sea level
Processing: Fully washed
Sweet, elegant and clean. Fruity and floral. Notes of blackcurrants, blood plums and morello cherries.
About La Joyeria (with thanks to Melbourne Coffee Merchants)
La Joyeria is produced by the Echavarria family, who are the owners of Santa Barbara Estate, in Antioquia, Colombia. Santa Barbara Estate is composed of 5 sister farms that lie across three neighbouring, geographical regions – Santa Barbara, Fredonia and Amagá. Established in the 1980s, Sr. Pedro Echavarria knew from the beginning that choosing land with the optimum conditions for specialty coffee was critical. He carefully selected plots that had unique microclimates, rich volcanic soil and high altitude in the Antioquia region. By marrying these perfect natural conditions with hard work and efficiency, he quickly grew both the area under cultivation and the farm’s reputation.
La Joyeria truly is ‘the jewel’ of Santa Barbara Estate. The coffee comes from the very highest parts of the Estate’s farms, from trees located at an average altitude of 1700 meters above sea level, and are 100% Colombia variety.
The Echavarria family employs 60 people all year round, who on average earn 30% above the minimum wage. Half of these also receive free housing within the farm for themselves and their families. A further 1,200 pickers are hired during the main harvest, comprised mainly of farmers from around the Santa Bárbara Estate who pick coffee to supplement their income. Workers are generally long-term employees and have been with the company for more than 10 years. The Echavarria family also run an extensive scholarship and financial aid program for worker’s children as well as helping long-standing employees to acquire their own piece of land upon retirement.
To ensure workers only pick the very ripest cherries, the Echavarria family use a mix of education and economic incentives. They explain ‘We are working with our pickers to teach them why it is so important that they pick the fully ripened beans, as most of them have no idea of the effects of their job on the final product. We also complement this with a set of collective incentives. Throughout the day, we are taking constant measures of the quality of the picking, measuring what percentage of unripe beans we have. When this percentage reaches a certain point a bonus kicks in, and then next day picking will be paid with a bonus. So far we have seen great results, and the mentality of the pickers has changed drastically.’
This coffee was processed under the watchful eye of Pedro’s son – Pedro Jr – who has become deeply involved in the workings of the estate over the last 5 years. Pedro Jr., who was educated at Tufts University, has taken the already high quality of the coffee produced by his family to new heights through experimentation in processing and increased monitoring and control of every stage of production. Pedro Jr. works very closely with the Director of Quality, Leonardo Henao Triana, who is a trained agronomist, and also in the midst of completing his masters degree in fermentation processing at the National University’s Medellin branch. Together Leo and Pedro Jr. manage the wet mill with a blend of art, industrial rigour and scientific curiosity.
This lot of La Joyeria is comprised of two days worth of picking; the coffee picked on the second day is added to the first after 24 hours fermentation and then left to ferment in the tanks for a further 24 hours. In this method of fermentation, the second batch raises the pH level of the fermentation tank, permitting longer fermentation times that will produce a fruit-forward cup but without the acetic acid produced by bacteria at a low pH. In this way, Pedro is able to maintain the correct pH level and avoid very low pH levels during processing that can lead to over-fermentation. In addition to giving more control over pH levels, this method also gives more control over yeast and bacteria activity. Interestingly, the inspiration for the process was taken from small farmers throughout Antioquia and Huila, who often have two or three day fermentation as their farms are so small that one day’s picking is often not sufficient to make up an entire lot. Pedro and Leo have worked to perfect the process and adapt it for larger-scale production.
After fermentation the coffee was dried slowly in silos, with great care taken to ensure the temperature did not go over 45 degrees.