Hard to believe, but the first time we bought coffee from Pedro Claros was all the way back in 2012! The initial deal was made via a cooperative that he used to work with, and in the years since we've worked with him to buy from his farm directly. Back in the beginning when we were still working things out, the shipment was so small that the coffee never made it onto the website and was sold as an exclusive to one of our lucky wholesale partners. Both Hasbean and La Chorrera have grown a lot since then, and their increased yields and quality mean more tasty coffee for you folks!
Over the years Carlos would send us every day's pickings to cup and we bought everything that scored over 86 points on the cupping table; anything below 86 was sold for commodity. This meant we had to pay a premium for the coffee, but it was definitely worth it. This vital feedback on the quality of the coffee plus the structured timing of each day's picking has helped the team at La Chorrera to improve consistency, and that higher price has allowed them to invest in the farm. They have worked hard on upgrading their processing and planting, and have also cultivated some new areas of special varietals like Pink Bourbon and Geisha, alongside their more traditional varieties Caturra, Colombia, and Castillo.
Finca La Chorrera is located near to the city of Pitalito, in the south of the Huila department. It's in the valley of the Rio Grande de la Magdalena, known as 'The Valley of Laboyos', which is 180 KM away from Nieva, the capital of Huila. Pitalito is the second largest city of the department of Huila, at approximately 125,000 inhabitants, and is considered one of the largest coffee producers in Colombia. Located on top of a mountain at 1,735 metres above sea level, the farm consists of eight hectares, six of which are planted with coffee. The other two hectares cover inaccessible mountainous areas of avocado trees and wild forest, home to a plethora of indigenous birds. The family house (which is also used for drying) and mill are at the bottom of the hill at around 1,400 metres above sea level.
The farm's drying patio is one of the most impressive drying patios of any farm we work with. It's a greenhouse built on top of the family home so that the coffee can be turned regularly, but also to make sure no one steals it. The latter is not so much of a problem in recent years with market prices being so low, but it was a real problem in the past. Of course, Pedro doesn't have to worry about market prices; he always get a premium because he consistently gives quality, but black market coffee goes to the highest market bidder.
The farm is owned and run by Pedro and his family: his wife Nelcy and their six children (Alberio, Edilson, Sandra, Hermes, Diana and Monica). It's a real family business with everyone pitching in to make it work, including the older kids' partners when needed. During the harvest they occasionally hire some seasonal pickers, but 99% of the jobs on the farm are done by family.