On a steep hike with Juan Abad

In Ecuador, Field Trip by Pira0 Comments

It was a very enjoyable motorbike ride on a sunny day when we were slowly winding up the hills to visit Juan Abad’s farm on 1780m. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful and the mountain range Rancho Carmen is known among locals for unique coffees. It’s hard to describe the scenery in words and photos don’t capture the actual beauty of South Ecuador. We strongly encourage everyone to visit, and we are happy to provide directions.

Juan, 49 years old, appears to be a quiet person, unlike all the other farmers we met. He prefers to let deeds speak for himself: the farm is in great condition and his coffee is excellent. He showed us only ripe red cherries are picked selectively at his farm and gave us a demonstration of depulping coffee by hand. The freshly depulped coffees land in the fermentation tank the next day, where the mucilage removal in clean water takes about 20 hours. After that the coffee is moved to the raised drying beds, which are covered by plastic to shield off from direct sunlight and create a constantly high temperature. This helps to dry all parchments evenly. The plastic also is a means to protect the beans from the frequent rainfalls.

Juan has been growing coffee organically on three hectares land. We met his oldest son, who is 22 years and helps picking coffee cherries. Juan has five children, and it seems big families are rather the norm than the exception in Ecuador.

His current coffee production is coming from plants with Caturra and Catimor varieties, which are harvested separately. A small lot is dedicated to young Typica plants. The walk through his coffee plantation was extremely difficult due to the steep hike. The slopes where the coffee grows face the sun for most of the day. It rains quite a lot as well explained Juan. We could see trees in between the coffee shrubs provide shades, but on his farm the trees with its vast roots are important to stabilize the soil given the steepness of the mountain range.

Some of the coffee shrubs carried coffee blossoms in the form of small white flowers. According to the Le Nez du Café handbook, over six thousand flowers appear on a single plant every year and the flowers grow alongside the fruits. It is a rare occasion in nature.

We cupped Juan’s 100% Caturra washed processed coffee and enjoyed its intense fruity, floral fragrance and aroma, with orange, green apple and stone fruit tasting notes. It is clean and well-balanced across all cupping criteria. The coffee still held its panela sweetness even when it cooled down. We scored it 84.5 points, however believe it has potential to develop even more in the coming months and can be enjoyed at its best when Juan’s organic microlot coffee will be available in our UK warehouse from this November onwards, please visit our website or instagram for updates.

View from Juan Abad's farm in Chinchipe, South Ecuador

View from Juan Abad’s farm in Chinchipe, South Ecuador

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