Oscar Hernández is a third-generation coffee farmer. His grandfather, Ricardo, was one of Colombia’s first ever speciality coffee producers – he bought the Los Nogales farm in 1953.
It was in the same year that Oscar’s father, Ricaurte, was born. And he became a real trailblazer – becoming the first ever winner of the Cup of Excellence in Colombia in 2005.
A few months later, he also demonstrated that a profitable, sustainable future in coffee was possible in Colombia by selling his speciality coffee to Maruyama Coffee, a well-renowned Japanese roaster.
Tragically, eight years later, Ricaurte Hernández was killed resisting thieves from a guerrilla organisation who were attempting to steal his fantastic crop. At this point in time, Oscar was 25 years old and six years into his army career.
But family duty called and Oscar became the head of the farm overnight. He ditched dreams of becoming a marine and called upon the expertise he’d learned from his father on the farm as a child – it was time to follow in Ricaurte’s footsteps in respect for the great man.
Oscar’s made huge steps on the farm in the eight years since. At just 34 years old, he’s quickly become a truly fascinating farmer producing absolutely exceptional coffee.
He’s also preserving the farm for the next generation, going the extra mile (and then some!) to look after his workers, and taking the environmentally sustainable option at every turn.
His sister, Angie, is also playing a very interesting part on the family farm. She’s a qualified industrial engineer and she works with her husband, Jhohan, a microbiologist, to optimise the fermentation process.
In a nutshell, the yeast ferments the mucilage (the fleshy bit) around the coffee cherry, loosens it and allows it to be washed off easily. It’s common practice for the yeast to be completely uncontrolled in the vineyard.
But Angie and Johan watch this every step of the way, controlling yeast volumes and the fermentation process – which both have a significant impact on flavour.
If it helps, think of it like wine. Vintners would allow naturally occurring yeasts to control the grape fermentation centuries ago (as natural wine producers do today), resulting in unpredictable and inconsistent results. But many modern day winemakers will master this – creating something that’s much more enjoyable to most drinkers.
The end result is nothing short of spectacular. Los Nogales is one of very few (if not the only) farms doing this in the world. And the trio are achieving such great results, they’re in sky-high demand with UK roasters.
The complexity in the resulting coffee, clarity of flavor and taste notes are all truly unique – the gold standard of Colombian speciality coffee.
You can taste it now in the chocolatey, orangey Los Nogales - soon to arrive as a limited edition.