Mrs. Elicenia, full name Maria Elicenia Chilito Guaca, is a relatively young and very smiling farmer. We met her at the end of 2022 thanks to the Campamento de mujeres cafeteras initiative, founded by “our” Ana Gloria. Elicenia and her husband farm a small farm, where they smile and are surrounded by their family as they delve into the production of fine coffee. They are passionate about their work and want to improve the different processes of washing and processing coffee. Elicenia passes on to all her children a love of farming, but also a responsibility that is very important.
“I teach all my children that they can have a good future in the countryside too. Each of them is in charge of his or her own lot of coffee.” At the same time, however, she emphasizes that each of her children study.
When she was young, she never imagined she would stay in the countryside, even though she grew up among coffee trees. Her grandparents were already growing coffee, but when she grew up, she, like many others, simply wanted to head to the city “for a better future.” When she was 18, her parents paid for her to study in the nearby town of Pitalito. Along with school, she took a course in coffee quality control and fell in love with the coffee world. She began to appreciate coffee and the work of her parents and grandparents and continued her education focused on coffee production. Slowly, she started to get into choice coffee. At one such course she met her current husband. After a few years of working in the industry in the city, she decided it was time to return directly to the farm. Her husband already had some land, and together they planted more coffee trees and gradually added more land.
“It was and is challenging, but we always hoped to find someone who would appreciate our work.”
Eventually they would like to run an agro-tourism business and produce coffee of the highest quality.
“My dream is to pass on my experience to children and young people in our area, to have my own coffee lab with a roaster and be able to offer a full service. And also for our coffee to be known in the world and for me to be able to get to know the world through it.”
Caturra 30 % , Colombia 30 %, Borbon Rosado 40 %
My husband and I bought the farm together. Thanks to his work, when he got hired on nearby farms, we gradually paid off the first part of the farm. We took out a loan for the second part, which we split and are still paying off.
When we moved to the farm, we had no facilities, there was no house and the “beneficiadero” where the coffee is processed was in bad shape. We only had a small tank and a basic dehuller. There was very little coffee on our land, just a few Caturra trees.
We now have a new coffee processing facility called the ‘eco-mill’. It consists of 4 stainless steel tanks with its own washer. This equipment is environmentally friendly, because thanks to it we consume almost no water. For drying we have African beds – marquesinas and also a mechanical silo.
The harvesting and processing processes on the farm are very traditional and typical of small farms in Colombia. After hand-picking, the farmers leave the cherries in the shade, stretched out on tarpaulins, usually for a day. The next day, the cherries are put into a tank and left there all day. On the third day, the coffee is de-husked in a mechanical mill and the de-husked beans go into large stainless steel tanks where they remain submerged in water for another day. The following day, the beans are washed and immediately broken down for successive drying.
The lot is, as the name suggests, of the Pink Bourbon variety. After picking, the cherries were left in the shade to air for a full 24 hours. Then another 24 hours in eco-mill tanks. On the third day, the cherries were peeled and the grains were left submerged in water for another 24 hours. On the fourth day, the grains were washed and drying began; this took 10 days. The coffee was then kept in parchment for 1 month.