Colombia - San Pascual Natural
Farm: Finca San Pascual, Santa Bárbara Estate
Altitude: 1,500 to 1,800 metres above sea level
Owner: Echavarria Family
Varietal(s): Castillo, Bourbon, Typica and Tabi
Notes: Coffee Cherry, Pulpy, Strawberry, Boozy & Jasmin
Santa Barbara Estate is composed of 5 sister farms that lie across three neighbouring, geographical regions - Santa Barbara, Fredonia and Amagá. Established in the 1980s, from the beginning Sr. Pedro Echavarria knew that location was crucial. Attracted by diverse microclimates, singular volcanic soils, perfect altitude and a tradition of excellence in coffee production, he established a small farm in the high Andes of Antioquia – Finca San Pascual. By marrying these perfect natural conditions with hard work and efficiency, he quickly grew both the area under cultivation and thefarm’s reputation.
In the last five years, Pedro’s son – also Pedro – has become more deeply involved in the workings of the Estate’s farms, taking the already high quality of the coffee to new heights through experimentation in processing and increasedmonitoring and control of every stage of production. Pedro Jr. and Santa Barbara’s Coffee Director, Leonardo HenaoTriana, approach the processing of their coffees with blend of art, industrial rigor and scientific curiosity. Today, in addition to providing a prime location for experimental new plantings of Castillo, Colombia, Bourbon, Typica and Tabi, San Pascual functions as the research lab where all their new processing methods are trialed.
The family always keeps a donkey named ‘Pascual’ on the premises as a sort of ‘mascot’ for the farm.
The wet mill in San Pascual was the location where Santa Barbara’s innovative Cold Fermentation process wasdeveloped, and about a year ago Santa Barbara’s Coffee Team began experimenting with processing small lots – specifically from the San Pascual farm, which is the hottest of the Estate’s lots - using the natural method. After being hand harvested and sorted, Santa Barbara dries these coffees in raised beds under shade. The coffee is spread thinly on screens encased in wooden boxes and is regularly turned to ensure even drying.
The farm’s smaller size and gentle geography lends itself to the space and time demands of such an intensive process,and although the farm currently only has enough beds to produce about 10 bags of green coffee per week, things look promising for the success of the experiment. Santa Barbara hopes to have the facilities in full production by next year and will potentially expand their facilities in the future.
Santa Bárbara Estate employs 60 people all year round, who on average earn 30% above the minimum wage. Half of these also receive free housing within the farm for themselves and their families. A further 1,200 pickers are hired during the main harvest, comprised mainly of farmers from around the Santa Bárbara Estate who pick coffee to supplement their income. Workers are generally long-term employees and have been with the company for more than 10 years.
The Santa Bárbara Estate also runs an extensive scholarship and financial aid program for worker’s children as well ashelping long-standing employees to acquire their own piece of land upon retirement.