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Our Head of coffee
“This coffee has a fantastic marmalade flavour, but still holds all the elegance you get with zesty orange acidity and rich cane sugar sweetness. Alongside these elements sit delicate walnut notes, which, when they’re combined together reminds me of smothering walnut toast with lashings of Seville orange marmalade.”
We have been working with Ananias (Peres Santanilla) for three years. He was one of the first farmers we began a Direct Trade relationship with and we purchase coffee from each of his two annual harvests. This means that his coffee has become a regular fixture on the Pact coffee menu. Ananias was actually part of the inspiration behind phase two of the three-phase program. During a visit to him on my first trip to Colombia, he mentioned his need for a moisture meter - a piece of equipment that is very expensive, putting it beyond the reach of most coffee farmers. Due to the remote location of El Mirador, high on an outcrop in the Andes mountains*, the temperature at this altitude is very low, which leads to much longer fermentation and drying times during processing. This makes it harder to estimate the correct time at which to finish the drying process. Usually, a farmer could borrow a moisture meter from a local mill, but the farm is so far away that this wasn’t possible. In this case, we decided to invest in the equipment for Ananias. The moisture meter was a gift, which strengthened our relationship with him, reinforced his already outstanding coffee production and inspired this family to join the coffee industry.
Ananias Peres Santanilla and his brother bought El Mirador from their father 25 years ago, a little while later he also bought his brother’s share. Between them Ananias and his brother made great improvements to the farm. Together they built a ranch and planted 5000 coffee trees.
Now, Ananias also owns another farm, Finca la Paterna, and has more than 50,000 plants, all of different ages and varieties. Future plans for the farm include planting 10,000 more trees and buying a humidity detector.
Many of the workers at El Mirador are members of the Santanilla family, however during the harvest, Ananias usually employs about three extra workers from the Cauca region.
Finca El Mirador is located on a remote outcrop of the Andes mountain range, as it cuts through the region of Huila at an altitude of over 1800m. Of all the farms I have visited in the world, it is honestly one of the hardest to access.
The track to the farm from the main road is just wide enough for a 4x4 vehicle, and has a drop-off of hundreds of meters to its side. I am used to driving on some pretty terrifying roads but this one may just be the limit, especially given the frequency of landslides on this mountain.
It is almost unbelievable that Ananias and his family manage to transport the coffee crop along this road every six months. Carrying the coffee over a mudslide that has taken the road out of commission is a regular occurrence, after waiting for a lorry to come up from a local dry mill. This itself is a testament the work it takes to produce coffee in this remote part of Huila. Ananias saved the money to invest in concrete, to help develop some of the best on-farm wet-mill facilities we have ever seen, and then commit to transporting it up to the farm. This just goes to show how much he cares about producing seriously high-quality coffee.
It’s the best product to make a living from. There’s no other product right now that gives you the same stability. Coffee makes my family happy and it gives us a better life.
My family is what makes me proudest. I’d like to win the cup of excellence. I’m really thankful to the Federación Nacional de Cafeteros and the Cooperativa Coocentral for organising this competition where I can show off the quality of my coffee.
|FLAVOUR||Orange, Walnut, Dark chocolate|
|PRODUCER||Ananias Perez Santanilla|
|TASTING NOTE||Seville orange marmalade|
|VARIETAL||Caturra, Colombia and Castillo|