We’ve been sourcing some of our favorite coffees from Huila, Colombia, since the early 2000s, when we started developing relationships with producers farming along the verdant mountains that are home to this region. The delicate balance found within the cup profile of coffees from this area keeps us searching for more — strong, sparkling acidity with notes of clean fruit, carmalized sugars, and just enough body to hold it all together.
Huila, specifically the south-western area of Huila, is home to many small towns and municipalities, each one special and unique. There are three main mountain ranges stretching across Colombia, and it is here in Huila that they begin to join together, forming the Andes Mountains that extend all the way south into Patagonia.
Some of the best coffees in the world come from within the cradle of these mountains by some of the best people to produce coffee that we have ever known.
Up until the last two years, we hadn’t fully explored this more remote area of Huila, focused primarily on relationships in other areas.
Meet Neyder, a 2nd-generation coffee producer from Tarqui, a small municipality located in south-western Huila. “Tarqui is kind of out there, a little more traditional “old-school” Colombia vibes, think “early 2000’s”, green-coffee buyer Omar Herrera explains. “There are a few co-operatives but not a lot of involvement with specialty coffee yet.”
“Farms are typically bigger in this area, and a lot of producers here are 1st generation coffee farmers that have inherited land previously used for livestock production and are now focusing on specialty coffee”, Omar explains.
“There’s a ton of regenerative farming happening here, too. With a lot of different types of animals for compost, producers are creating their own fertilizers and foliage sprays. You do see this a lot on farms in Colomba, but it is very clear that there is a culture of producers in Tarqui that are focused on regenerative farming techniques”, says Omar.
Neyder is an example of the regenerative movement towards specialty coffee that we are seeing happen in Tarqui. After getting married to his wife, he bought a motorcycle, which he very promptly traded for his first piece of land so he could grow coffee. In 2020, Neyder constructed a parabolic coffee dryer, and since then, we have been purchasing his microlots.
A very meticulous producer, Neyder has been working closely with his sister, a coffee cupper in a nearby town, to refine his processing techniques through trial-and-error, and it’s working. Neyder has been consistently delivering higher-quality coffees each year.
When it comes to the future, Neyder has his sights set on building a vermicomposting facility to process cherry waste and household organic waste into organic soil and foliar fertilizers, saving the farm money and preserving the health of his own soils at the same time.
Our in-store Tarqui microlots, from Neyder and other producers from this area, represent so many things about regenerative agriculture that we cannot celebrate enough. Regarding cup profile, we have been noticing a consistent theme of stewed fruits, stone fruit, and winey berry flavors — likely due to the extended fermentation time that producers utilize for their coffees.