Many Hasbean fans have undoubtedly already heard of the Rodriguez family, but if you haven't then suffice to say that they have been amazing long-time friends of ours who make everything we get from Bolivia possible. The family owns the La Llama farm alongside 9 others in Bolivia, in addition to running the Sol De La Mañana program in collaboration with small-scale local farmers.
This plantation had already been producing coffee for 15 years when the Agricafé team first went to view the land. While looking around the farm they were planning to buy, they came across a llama. In their words:
'[...] we encountered a llama that with its pointy ears, alert look and proud stance seemed to be saying “come near my land and I’ll spit on you."'
And so the farm got its name! Agricafe’s company mascot Sophia was born from the love Bolivians have for their national animal.
La Llama it situated in the settlement of Villa Rosario, located in a lush, steep mountain valley just outside of the town of Caranavi. This is the highest of all the Los Rodriguez farms, sitting at 1650m above sea level. At this high altitude, temperatures are mild during the day and cold at night. This microclimate ensures a slow maturation of the coffee cherries, alongside a soil very rich in minerals this means a perfect environment for coffee plants to grow well.
Surrounded by thick forest and plentiful local streams, reaching the farm is an experience in and of itself. You need to jump in a 4x4 and travel on some winding roads with the land rising steeply on either side. You'll find yourself winding past perfectly arranged rows of coffee trees interspersed with >30% natural reserve throughout the farm, reforested with native Tajibo, Mara, and Ceibo trees. Beautiful!
La Llama is run by local people and the Rodriguez family hire from 50 to 200 pickers from the Villa Rosario community to handpick the coffee during the harvest. Out of the 8 farms Agricafe have in Caranavi, La Llama is the only one located in Villa Asunción Colony, neighbour to Bolinda Colony where their other farms are. With local people working the land and managing what happens on the farm, it's become a fantastic example of what can be achieved with local knowledge and best practices. The farm grows Geisha Hawaii, Orange Caturra, SL-28, Ethiosar, Java, Geisha, and SL-34.
Before it was called La Llama, the farm was known as Puerto de Cuelo. When the Rodriguez family took over they wanted to renovate and remodel the farm to prove that it is possible to create a new coffee plantation on an older coffee growing area. Their intention is to demonstrate that such things are possible, and to hopefully inspire others to follow their lead and renovate the ageing coffee-growing areas of the country while generating a source of income for families living in the region.
Geisha is a super interesting varietal that has attracted a lot of attention among coffee lovers in the last few years. It’s become famous for its complex floral flavours that are reminiscent of Ethiopian coffees, but is grown in Central America. But what’s a Geisha 'Hawaii'?!! It turns out it isn’t a cocktail: it’s a particularly specific lineage of the Geisha. The plant stock we call Geisha came to Central America from Ethiopia in the 1950s, after which it was forgotten (it’s not a very practical plant for producers to grow) until it was rediscovered in Panama.
Now, this Panamanian Geisha is the one we’re all most familiar with. It's floral, perfumed, and light-bodied. On the way to Panama, the plants first went through Costa Rica, and some of the original stock has survived there too. Geisha Hawaii is the Rodriguez family's name for this Geisha plant from Costa Rica. This is the same lineage as some of our favourite Costa Rican Geishas, such as the one from Finca De Licho. That fact just adds to our excitement to see it grown at La Llama. If you’ve tried the Panaman Geisha from El Fuerte, you'll find that this is a great example of the difference in the two lineages. It lives up to the 'Hawaii' bit of its name, too; it's less floral, more tropical, less delicate, and juicier