This coffee was produced by Pedro Flores, in the settlement of Villa Rosario, around 180km from La Paz.
This region is in the heart of the Caranavi province, the epicentre for coffee production in Bolivia. Caranavi’s very high altitudes, rich soil and wide daily temperature ranges make great conditions to grow exceptional coffee.
Pedro’s farm, Finca El Mirador, is 10 hectares in size and is located 1,550–1,650m above sea level. On the farm there are heirloom Caturra, Catuaí, and Typica varieties, and the harvest runs from June to October, with the peak harvest in June and July.
When he was six years old, Pedro and his family moved to Caranavi. At the time, a drop in commodity prices triggered a crisis in the mining sector. To try to boost the economy and support the poorest communities outside of La Paz, the government gifted parcels of land in Caranavi to many families, including Pedro’s, to encourage them to move out and find other ways to build a living.
Pedro inherited that family farm when he was just 14 years old, and by the age of 18 he started growing coffee, alongside tomatoes and citrus fruit.
Like many families in Villa Rosario, Pedro initially relied on selling his coffee at the local market, which meant low prices and little reliability. But over the last decade Pedro has focused on producing specialty coffee.
Now he selectively picks his coffee cherries and has completely renovated his farm, and sells his top-grade coffees for substantially higher prices to our partners at Agricafe, who process specialty lots at their Buena Vista washing station in Caranavi, not far from Pedro’s farm.
Agricafe is a Bolivian family business owned by Pedro Rodriguez and his daughter Daniela and son Pedro Pablo. The trio’s mission is to build the production of, and market for, Bolivian specialty coffee. To do this, they have invested efforts and funding across the entire specialty coffee production chain, including buying coffee from hundreds of local farmers, establishing state-of-the-art wet and dry mills, launching producer training programs, and planting new coffee farms across the regions of Caranavi and Samaipata.
Over the last decade, Agricafe has been working to try and save the Bolivian coffee industry. Despite its international recognition and highly sought after coffees, production of coffee across Bolivia has decreased dramatically and has been at risk of completely disappearing. A combination of ageing coffee plantations, traditional and very unsophisticated farming techniques and diseases such as leaf rust have resulted in significantly reduced yields, and this, combined with the proliferation of the competing coca industry (used for cocaine), has seen coffee production more than halve.
To try to save coffee production in Bolivia and build a more sustainable future for it, the Rodriguez family started a project called Sol de la Mañana (which translates to ‘morning sun’).
Sol De La Mañana
The first of its kind in the country, the Sol de la Mañana program is aimed at sharing knowledge and technical assistance with local coffee producers to help them renovate their farms and improve yield quantities. By doing so Agricafe hopes that coffee production can be a sustainable and financially stable crop for smallholder farmers like Pedro for many years to come.
Pedro Flores has been part of Agricafe’s Sol de la Mañana program since its establishment in 2015. As part of the program, Pedro follows a very structured series of courses focused on improving both quality and, critically, yield at his farm. The curriculum hones in on one aspect of farming at a time and includes information on building and maintaining a coffee nursery, when to prune and use fertiliser, how to avoid and treat leaf rust, and how to selectively pick coffee. Agricafe has also helped Pedroidentify which parts of his farm to renovate and repair, with a focus on long term, sustainable, and ultimately profitable farming practices.
The results of the Sol de la Mañana program have been profound, with improved quality and quantities for all participating producers, including Pedro. He is now achieving yields of 30 bags per hectare; a significant achievement! Prior to participating in the program his yields had fallen to less than six bags per hectare.
How this coffee was processed
This particular lot from Pedro Flores was carefully hand-picked and processed on the same day at the Buena Vista washing station. This meticulously run mill is owned by Agricafe, who painstakingly process each of the exceptional specialty lots they receive separately to allow for full traceability back to the individual farmer or settlement.
Evenings at the mill are always bustling as arrivals of fresh cherries begin in the late afternoon after the day’s picking, and continue deep into the night. It is widely known around Caranavi that only perfectly ripe cherries will be accepted by this mill and all lots are inspected on arrival prior to processing. In an arrangement somewhat unique to this mill, many farmers use taxis to deliver coffee, and by 7 pm a long line of taxis forms along the road leading to the mill.
After being inspected and weighed, the coffee was carefully sorted by weight using water, and floaters removed.
After the coffee was pulped it was fermented with water for 22 hours. Then the coffee was dried slowly and carefully in a mechanical dryer for 60- 75 hours, with temperatures below 40˚C. When the coffee reached 16% humidity it was then rested for five hours in a silo, and then carefully dried until it reached 11.5% humidity.
Once the coffee was dry, it was then transported to La Paz where it was rested and then milled at Agricafe’s dry mill, La Luna. At this state-of-the-art mill, the coffee was meticulously hulled and sorted using machinery and also by hand, by a team of sorters who carefully check the coffee under both UV and natural light. The mill is one of the cleanest and most impressive we have seen. You can read more about it here.
Pedro Flores worked hard to collect and process the cherries for this special micro-lot. The cherries come from the most elevated part of the farm, where the ripening process is slower, allowing the sugars to develop more evenly to produce a very sweet coffee. The result is exceptional. We are very excited to be able to share this beautiful coffee with you and hope you enjoy it!