Project Direct in Colombia
The Huila Region
Southwest of Bogota lies the state of Huila in Colombia. Nestled amongst the mountains of the Cordillera Oriental, Huila is also home to Colombia's second highest peak, the Nevado del Huila volcano and is carved by the great Magdalena River. The Huila region is one of Colombia's most important coffee growing regions, and is also the home of a deep farming tradition in Colombia. The rich soils and lush climate provide ideal growing conditions for a variety of crops in addition to coffee, including yucca, sugar cane, bananas, cocoa and beans.
Project Direct Colombia comes from Benicio Diaz's farm on the outskirts of the small town of San Juaquin in the district of Santa Maria in Huila. Benicio's was one of the farms that we knew we needed to visit because of the high quality of the coffee as well as the delicious fruity notes from first tasting his coffee at the roastery.
When we arrived on Benicio's farm, he graciously brought us to his house and introduced us to his family, who were busy preparing one of the most delicious meals we have ever eaten. His grandson clung to him for dear life, and everyone from both his family and the surrounding community seemed to want to be around him. As he cooked, he told us the history of his farm – he bought it 30 years ago. His family had not been in the coffee business, but as a young boy he helped work on coffee farms, and always had a passion for it. After living and working hard making clothing with his wife, he finally made enough money to buy the nearby farm he had always wanted.
It is immediately obvious that you have stepped on to Benicio's farm because of the vividly colored plants and the immaculately cared for vegetable garden in his backyard. The smell of fresh tomatoes, cilantro, and avocados mixes with the sweet smell of coffee cherries and creates a perfume only found in this region of Colombia. In addition to the intense labor and immaculate care, Benicio also has recently upgraded his wet mill and washing tanks in an effort to further improve the quality of his coffee. Upon hiking up to the highest peak on Benicio's land, the views from the top overlook the entire surrounding area, perfectly framing his land in the deep valley of Santa Maria.
Benicio has 16 hectares of land between 5,570 and 6,135 feet above sea-level, and 10 of these he uses to grow coffee. His farm is also Rainforest Alliance and U.T.Z. Certified.
- Cup score: 86
- Variety: 50% Colombia, 40% Catimor, 10% Caturra
- Balance: Smooth and well rounded
- Aroma: Juicy, citrus like fruits
- Flavor: Milk Chocolate, tangerine, orange, and herbal teas
- Sweetness: Mild
- Body: Smooth, light and silky