We received a very warm welcome from Hugo Gordillo Troya at our first coffee farm visit in Ecuador. His farm La Palma is located at 1240m, near Progresso, a small village about 20 mins away from Zumba, Zamora Chinchipe. When we met Hugo, we felt like we have known him for many years, he is one of the rare people who you instantly bond with. He is a very friendly and social person, guess that’s not surprising given he is the proud father of seven children.
Hugo is very passionate about coffee and, at the age of 66, he is still very keen to develop his organic farm. He owns four hectares of land, on which currently two hectares produce coffee. The other half is being prepared for new seedlings of the Typica variety, some two and twelve months young. Unfortunately the leaf rust has spread on the older shrubs (5-8 years), hence it’s time to replace them soon.
We noticed his eagerness to improve the quality of his coffee. He actively participates in education sessions offered by Wilfrido (see our blog post), asks him for feedback, and last year he started experimenting with honey processing. He heard in Colombia they have been successful with it, so he thought to give it a try. It is known as cafe miel in Spanish-speaking countries, miel means honey and refers to the fruit mucilage, which is left on the beans after depulping the coffee cherries. During the process, some water is used and the mucilage is left partially or completely to dry on the parchments, unlike the washed process, where a lot of water is used to fully remove the mucilage before drying the beans. There are different degrees of colour, mostly referred to as yellow, red and black honey depending either on the exposure to sunlight, the frequency the parchments are turned, or the percentage of mucilage left on the parchment. The latter is the case for Hugo’s yellow and black honey processed coffee.
During a blind cupping with four samples on the table, we cupped both honey processed coffees, which both were made of the varieties Caturra, Pacas and a bit of Typica. The yellow honey tasted very similar to a washed coffee, showed some rather uniform characteristics and scored 82. However, the black honey processed coffee surprised us with a very interesting cup profile: sweet berries, chocolate and orange, while more fruit flavours, such as apricot, came through when the coffee cooled down, still revealing exceptional sweetness. The bright acidity and great balance round up the experience. We scored the black honey with 85.5 points.
Hugo plans to honey process only a small portion of his coffee, and we are extremely happy to get the entire mircolot of 10 bags. We should be able to offer this unique coffee this early November, and updates will be provided on our website and instagram.
Besides coffee, Hugo grows many different agricultural products such as cacao, platano, banana, orange, lime, maracuya and papaya. The trees enrich the soil, provide shade to the coffee shrubs helping to avoid larger variations in temperature, prevent erosion of soil, and offer better water and nutrient retention capacity. The farm is self-sustaining for daily life with all kinds of vegetables and herbs grown in the backyard. We truly enjoyed the Ecuadorian hospitality and the tasty lunch with all ingredients coming directly from the farm.