Have you seen Gonzalo Gaona?…a specialty coffee farmer

In Ecuador, Field Trip by Pira0 Comments

“Gonzalo! Goonzalllooooo! Gooooonzaaallooo!” We have been shouting his name countless times when we were at his beautiful farm in Chinchipe, South Ecuador. While fielding through four hectares land, getting bitten by lots of mosquitoes, watching out for his dog and taking photos of his farm, we continued our search for Gonzalo. His farm starts on 1570m and stretches all the way down into the valley. After half an hour or so, we finally found him on our first visit.

Gonzalo Gaona is very friendly and energetic, and has been part of the coffee cooperative ACRIM for about six years, however his family has been in the coffee industry for much longer. His farm is organic and in ship shape. He grows Typica, red and yellow Caturra and Bourbon varieties, which are overshadowed by trees, mostly platanos. Coffee is a seasonal crop, hence Gonzalo also exports platanos to secure himself a steady income.

In the photo below, you see Marcelo Delgado Toledo (right), who is helping Gonzalo (on the left) to adjust the depulper. Gonzalo explained to us the depulped coffee sits for at least five hours in the concrete tank for fermentation. The fermentation time is critical to the quality of coffee and the process has to be closely watched to avoid stinkers and over-fermentation. The time in the concrete tank depends on the amount of mucilage, the temperature and the concentration of peptic enzymes. Dry pulped parchments and ripe cherries show greater concentration of enzymes. The coffee is washed after the mucilage is fully digested. Later on, the coffee gets sun dried on raised, covered beds. The drying process is relatively quick with usually less than ten days because the area is exposed to plenty sunny hours and warm temperatures.

What to look for in his coffee? A very strong chocolate, orange and berry mix fragrance, paired with a rich fruity, apple aroma makes this coffee stand out even before we cupped it. Clean yellow fruits, peachy cup characteristics with a bright orange acidity and a spicy chocolate finish make this coffee truly unique and memorable. This complex coffee got even better when it cooled down, still tasting sweet and balanced after more than 50 minutes on the cupping table. We think it would make an outstanding chilled drink as well, maybe a great choice for roasters and cafés focusing on cold brewing.

We are extremely happy to bring 30-35 bags to the UK, with expected arrival in early November. Gonzalo indicated the quality should improve in the coming months, though he was pleased to hear his coffee already scored 85 points in June.

Three weeks later, we went back to his farm because we wanted to take a photo of him. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find him after searching for more than an hour. It honestly felt like a déjà vu! We ended up chatting with his neighbour Klever Abad, who told us he had seen Gonzalo earlier. Well, good luck finding him!

Specialty coffee farmers in Ecuador: Gonzalo Gaona (left) and Marcelo Delgado Toledo (right)

Specialty coffee producers in Ecuador: Gonzalo Gaona (left) and Marcelo Delgado Toledo (right)

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