December 2015 - David Vilca, Bolivia

David is from the colony of Bolinda located in the North Yungas region of Bolivia near to the town of Caranarvi. His farm is called Finca David Vilca as the farm doesn't have a name (this is quite common in Bolivia) and farms are often named after the family running them, or an individual.

David migrated from La Paz to the farm 15 years ago after a career in mining left him with damaged hearing. He bought this 12 hectare farm as security for himself and his family, to make sure they could support themselves. When he took over, he only had one acre planted with coffee (it was of the Criolla varietal). After two years, David was comfortable with coffee farming. He was becoming increasingly interested in it, and so he decided to extend the planting. He now has five acres of coffee (and we have bought the coffee from all of them). He has very little outside help with the farm, except from direct family: his wife helps him greatly.

The varietals on the farm are Caturra, Catuai and Criolla. The farm is under constant improvement. David is now removing much of the Criolla and focusing on Typica and Catuai, for cup quality reasons. This coffee comes from the Caturra parts of the farm.

Last year you may have noticed the price of our coffees from David were a little unusual...

I've visited David a couple of times now. I thought he was being rude to me by ignoring me, or not responding when I spoke to him. Last time I visited, though, I found out David had damaged his hearing whilst working as a miner before purchasing the farm.

In the past the exporter had given David some money to get hearing aids, but he spent the money on satellite TV (for his wife – who hasn’t been in that situation)! So last year we paid for two hearing aids while we were there, so that he could hear again.

We thought that would be the last of it. But when I last visited David didn’t have his hearing aids in. He told us that they were not good while he was picking what to wear, but also that he couldn’t afford the batteries. So we left him with cash for a microphone hearing-device for around his neck, and $200 for batteries. This worked out at 7p per bag for all the coffee we buy from him, and I didn't pick up the tab you lovely people did!  So a big THANK YOU from me and also of course from David!

Recently we teamed up with our friends from Eight Ounce Coffee in Canada to make a single origin lip balm with coffee from Alejandro Martinez and we've made more but this time with coffee from David Vilca!  You should have a look and buy some too, it's really good!

  • Farmer: David Vilca
  • Farm: Finca David Vilca
  • Founded: 2001
  • Province: Caranavi
  • Region: North Yungas
  • Altitude: 1,570–1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Hectares of total farm: 7 hectares Hectares of coffee plantation: 5 hectares
  • Quantity of coffee plants: 20,000
  • Shade: Natural shade by Inga sp. (Sinquili) and others
  • Coffee varieties: Caturra, Criolla and Typica
  • Rainfall period: Nov–February
  • Average temperature: 8°C ≤ 19°≥ 30°C
  • Soil type: Clay and shale-y
  • Other crops grown: Citrus fruits (orange and tangerine), and avocado
  • Average age of coffee plants: 8 to 12 years old.
  • Now renovating plantations with Caturra and Typica.

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