What happens when an experimental farm and a micromill work hand in hand for five years?

Posted on December 21st, 2022

A week and a half ago, we traveled to mountainous Vancouver, Canada, to participate in the World AeroPress Championship finals. We’ve been the coffee sponsor and close supporter of this event for many years. Most recently, this has evolved into sourcing an offering alongside the WAC team to supply the competitors with a unique and versatile coffee to compete with. We sat on the judge’s panel this year, cupping through nearly fifty brews. The spectrum of flavor profiles, ranging from delicate to intense and bright to deep, was astonishing. It speaks to the versatility of coffee as an ingredient and the tools and talents of the champions – all reliant on the professionals who cultivated, harvested, and processed this coffee.

This year’s coffee was Cauca, Colombia’s Finca Juan Martin Red Striped Bourbon, one processed washed and one processed naturally at Manos Juntas micromill.

Finca Juan Martin and Manos Juntas are two different projects, both striving to make coffee production more profitable for producers and consistently delicious for consumers, all under the Banexport umbrella. Banexport is our longstanding partner and friend, sourcing and exporting many of our Cauca, Huila, and Nariño offerings. Their commitment to quality, sustainability, and economic equality for producers is exemplified in their projects, particularly Finca Juan Martin and Manos Juntas.


Modeling the future of specialty coffee in Colombia

Best described as a model farm, Finca Juan Martin aims to develop quality-focused cultivation techniques with eleven varieties and counting, ranging from traditional (Colombia f6, Castillo, Caturra), to recently discovered (Red Striped Bourbon), to famous (Gesha, Sidra, Pink Bourbon). This knowledge is offered to producers in Cauca freely. Employees are paid competitively with full benefits. These practices are guided by their mission of making coffee a viable career path for generations to come throughout Colombia. When you purchase coffee from Finca Juan Martin, you support a competition-level farm that passes on its techniques to producers throughout Cauca.

We recently received fresh shipments from this project, available now in Minneapolis, including Red Striped Bourbon, Pink Bourbon, Sidra, Gesha, Arara, and Harrar.

After the coffee is hand-harvested and sorted, the lots travel 25 miles from Sotara to Banexport’s micromill, Manos Juntas, in Popayan.


Responsible, sustainable, and scientifically informed coffee processing

Manos Juntas is a micromill – a private, small-scale wet and dry mill. All of Finca Juan Martin’s coffee is processed at Manos Juntas. More importantly, though, Manos Juntas purchases cherry from over 60 producers throughout Cauca and Huila, paying them more expeditiously while taking on the risk of finishing and selling the coffee. Their process is forward-thinking, seeking solutions for many of coffee’s production problems.

Here’s a look at a coffee’s journey through the mill, and what sets Manos Juntas apart.

Purchase Cherries from Producers →

  • Producers are paid 2-3 months sooner than if they were to sell their own coffee in parchment.
  • The producers are paid at least 25% more than Colombia’s standard differentiated rate.
  • Manos Juntas assumes all risks associated with processing, drying, and exporting coffee.

Pre-Processing →

  • Cherries are sorted by size and density into lots for homogenization and consistency in fermentation and drying rate.
  • The cherries are then cleaned with UV light and an ozone solution to eliminate any foreign material and microorganisms that would impact the fermentation

Processing →

  • Manos Juntas produces washed, honey, and natural-process coffees, as well as anaerobic variations of all three.
  • Fermentation is controlled by isolating the lots and applying microorganisms from the same farm they develop in-house.
  • Operations are fully powered by solar panels.

Drying and Post-Process

  • Coffees are dried in a solar dryer. The humidity is controlled by compressed air, bringing the relative humidity down from 70% to 30%.
  • All wastewater used in processing is filtered and treated before being pumped back into the city water system.
  • The coffee by-product is being used in multiple ways: fertilizer, cascara, and other products that are in testing with the goal of generating more profits to be passed back to the producer.

Purchasing Manos Juntas offerings allows this project to continue to grow in its capacity to innovate and serve more producers in an effort to raise the floor of coffee prices throughout Colombia. These coffees are beautifully consistent and improve year after year.

This is a long one, folks, but we are passionate about these projects.

It’s why we continually partner with people like Banexport. Prioritizing honesty, responsibility for the environment, and creating a sustainable path for producers is more important than ever. These two projects provide us with incredible coffees, yes. They also fight for the future of coffee in the face of climate change and economic instability so that the livelihood of all in the production chain is recognized as valuable – so that we might enjoy a morning cup that isn’t at the expense of others but creates more opportunity and potential for others.