Benedicto Puentes is a farmer from the Tolima region and many of you need no introduction. Perhaps you were lucky enough to meet him in person in the fall of 2021, when he visited us in the Czech Republic together with his wife Helena Oliviero.
Benedicto is extremely active and always comes up with new projects. He plunged headlong into the world of specialty, improving the processes on his parents’ farm Palma Roja and gradually buying more land and starting his own plantations. Together with Helena, they also help local farmers get paid well for their coffee, assessing and advising on farm processes for next to nothing. It all started when he could no longer watch his neighbors have poor bargaining power simply because of a lack of information.
And we, Chicas Industry, hope to deepen and expand our cooperation. Because we enjoy Tolima!
China Alta, Tolima
3,5 ha (3 ha of coffee)
The Palma Roja farm belongs to the Puentes Gonzáles family. It is relatively new, founded in 1995 by Benedicto Puentes Vásquez and Marghod González. It is their youngest son, Benedicto Júnior, who is our acquaintance and friend, and thanks to him and his Italian wife Helena, we started buying coffee from Tolima. The coffee trees on the Palma Roja farm are around 7 years old and grow mostly without shading. In this area, there is so much cloud cover during the year that additional shade would be harmful and would not allow the plants to develop. (Shading is used in areas where the light intensity during the year is above the average need of coffee plants.)
In the last few years, the two have been working together to push local coffee production up a bit. Benedicto processes its coffees very carefully. Sometimes he also buys ripe cherries from farmers in the area. And it shows people that quality (and thus price) can be increased with good, accurate handling.
What we experience on other farms (e.g. in Rondón, Boyacá) is repeated here. If someone local is the agent of change, this is the most direct way to achieve results. Especially if it’s someone people like and respect like Benedicto.
Benedicto processes its coffees mainly using the washed method. But every year he works on longer and longer fermentations and looks for the ideal way to add juiciness to his coffees. Although the farm is located in a remote rural area with poor access to roads and services such as internet and mobile networks, Benedicto processes each lot according to strict standards. He controls the fermentation processes, their length and the temperature at which they take place, and to achieve the best stability of the grain, he uses gradual and long drying, keeping the temperature around 36 degrees. And the results it achieves are getting better every year.
Benedicto again prepared for us his juicy, pleasant coffee, a mixture of caturra and castillo varieties, which he processed as washed, but with double fermentation. After harvesting, the ripe cherries were fermented for 50h, then they were peeled and followed by another fermentation for 100h in plastic bags. The coffee was then washed and dried in a roof-top dryer for 15 days.