FB Product Set: Coffee

Colombia – Monteblanco – Purple Caturra – Washed

Finca Monteblanco, located high along the winding mountain roads of Vereda La Tocora in the San Adolfo municipality above Pitalito, is a family farm managed by Rodrigo Sanchez Valencia in the tradition of coffee cultivation that began with his grandfather. Monteblanco’s 18 hectares sit on the crest of a hill, with the wetmill and drying facilities at the top of the farm and slopes of coffee planted below.

In 2002, Rodrigo participated in a local program teaching children of coffee producers to cup. Before that, he and his family had never considered coffee in terms of cup profile. By learning to differentiate profiles, he and his father and grandfather were able to make the connections between the farming techniques they applied and coffee’s attributes in the cup.

At this time, Rodrigo also began to learn about cupping competitions that evaluate the best lots from farms in a region. He noticed that farms would win one year and then never again, so he decided to investigate how to produce quality coffee consistently. This led him to explore the trees planted on Monteblanco, were he discovered various varieties his grandfather had planted in the 1980’s.

All cherries harvested are measured for degrees Brix. Based on the sugar content indicated, the team at Aromas del Sur, the umbrella group of Monteblanco, Progreso, and La Loma farms, then designates which processing method is appropriate. Coffees with 24-27 degrees Brix are processed as washed coffees, beginning with depulping cherries they day they are harvested.

Coffee is fermented between 28 and 32 hours, fully washed with clean water, transferred to the solar dryer for several days, and finally moved to shaded raised beds to complete the drying process. Floaters are removed at the first stage prior to depulping to produce clean, consistent coffees that represent the terroir of the farm.

Rodrigo is proud that he, his wife Claudia Samboni, farm manager Don Gerardo, and the team that works in the fields and at the mill have reached the goal of achieving consistent quality. Each harvest, Finca Monteblanco produces microlots that serve as competition coffees around the world, but the farm also consistently produces containers of delicious coffees that appear year-round on café menus and retail shelves. By applying an ethic of rigorous monitoring, planning, and management of each stage of production and processing, all coffees from Monteblanco showcase their full potential.

Harvesting and processing on Monteblanco have had to evolve with the times, adapting to a changing climate that disperses the harvest through ten months of the year rather than in a concentrated peak. Coffees from Monteblanco are milled and prepared for export at the new, state of the art Aromas del Sur drymill in Pitalito.

Ethiopia – Agaro Gera – Kolla Bolcha – Washed

Kolla Bolcha comes to us from the Agaro region of Western Ethiopia, bringing with it a ripe red fruit character (think cherry and currant), a heavy cola sweetness, and a lustrous, honeyed mouthfeel. , Mechanically depulped on Penagos, and soaked overnight to remove remaining mucilage. Then Pre-dried in the shade for 24 hours before finishing the drying process on raised beds for 8-12 days.

After a decade-long relationship with Agaro and the Kata Muduga cooperative union—dating back even before Red Fox was born—we were excited to welcome Kolla Bolcha, a newer coop neighboring the Biftu Gudina cooperative, into the Agaro family just two years ago. Despite Agaro’s well-established excellence and widespread name recognition, the Agaro coffees we know and love today didn’t find their way to market until just ten years ago, after USAID’s Technoserve project vested this region—once known for less-than-stellar Grade 5 sundried naturals—with brand-new processing equipment, allowing their coffee to showcase its unique character and improve the lives of those growing it in the process. Kolla Bolcha represents that investment to the fullest, bringing the heat season after season and month after month. Thanks to Technoserve’s initial investment and the stellar leadership of Kolla Bolcha and Kata Muduga, Kolla Bolcha’s processing is immaculate, leading to an incredible showcase of the coffee’s natural potential for a ridiculously long time off harvest. The secret? After Penagos processing equipment mechanically removes most of the fruit and mucilage from the seeds, they soak overnight in fiberglass tanks, allowing any remaining sugars to be fully removed from their surface so that the coffees are perfectly clean by the time they hit the drying beds for the eight-plus days they’ll need to dry. Since its inception, Kolla Bolcha has been a Red Fox staple and an excellent representative of everything Agaro has to offer. To this day, our long and substantial relationship with with Asnake and Efrem, Kata Muduga’s leaders, affords Red Fox first right to lot selection. On top of that, with mighty effort from our strategic trade partners in Addis, we’re also able ship these lots first so that they enter the country pristine as when they left and with even more time to shine. Remarkably, Kolla Bolcha not only starts the season stellar, it actually continues to open up and give even more over time, sometimes peaking in perfection at ten to twelve months off harvest and lasting long after that.

Costa Rica – Don Eli – Natural

The Montero family lives in El Llano de La Piedra, between the towns of San Marcos and Santa Maria de Dota in the Tarrazu canton of Costa Rica. The micromill, Microbeneficio Don Eli, is located across the river from their home  fully equipped for processing fully Washed and Honey coffees and covered drying beds for Natural coffees as well. One of their several farms, Finca La Pastora, is located up on the side of a nearby mountain, with breathtaking views looking back down into the river valley and over the landscape of Tarrazu. Coffee from the Manzanal lot, named for the apple trees that grow there, was selected for Yellow Honey processing.
Carlos has not always had his own mill, however, and the efforts to create coffee processing capabilities on his own land were part of Costa Rica’s “micromill revolution” and the result of the entire family’s hard work and dedication over many years. Carlos was motivated to take on this gargantuan task because of his family’s history working in coffee production and his own convictions and desire to put his family’s name on the final product.
The Montero family has been farming coffee for four generations; the legacy begins with Rafael Montero and Emilia Picado. Their son Eli Montero would work throughout his life in coffee, as would his son, Carlos Montero. Today, two of Carlos’ children, Jacob and Marianela, are involved in coffee both on and off the farm. Carlos grew up watching his father struggle through the hard times that often befall smallholder farmers and set out to create opportunities for himself as well as his family’s farm.
In 1971, Carlos participated in a high school exchange program in San Diego, California. He gained experiences and friendships that remain with him to this day and informed his approach to coffee production. Carlos later lived and worked in New Jersey, becoming fluent in English, and also traveled to Europe to experience the continent’s history and culture. Carlos treasures these experiences abroad and his favorite aspect of working in coffee is the connections he makes with people from all over the world. He loves hosting coffee lovers from around the world and sharing his culture with his guests.
In the past, Carlos and his family produced coffee for the local coffee cooperative, for over 20 years. During the harvest of 2014-2015, the Monteros took the risk of establishing their own micromill to process the coffee they grew. This way, they could regulate their own coffee, focus on innovating processing methods, and ensure quality in each coffee bean. They transitioned to a mindset of quality over quantity, and today specialize in Honey and Natural processed coffees in addition to clean fully Washed lots.