San Alberto is a coffee farm you can easily write entire pages about. First, location facts: the farm lands are located in Buenavista in Quindío, the smallest city in Colombia’s smallest department. The soil is predominantly volcanic and the area has a stable temperature between 18 and 23°C year-round. The farm’s main crop (about 70-80% of the total harvest) is produced in April, mitaca falls around September – October.
Juan Pablo’s grandparents, Gustavo and Melba acquired the first part of the farm in 1972. When they acquired the farm it was called La Alsacia, but they renamed it San Alberto in honour of their deceased son. They managed the farm together, until Juan Pablo’s grandfather died in a road accident with the iconic Willy jeep. The grandmother was left to manage the farm by herself.
In 1996, Juan Pablo’s parents Eduardo and Olga took over the business and started changing the course towards quality. Eduardo Villota used to run a rice producing company and worked a lot with plant genetics and crop optimization. With his knowledge, he started the first transformation phase of the farm towards high quality coffee production.
Ten years later, Juan Pablo and his brother Gustavo came into play. They decided to take part in the Villota’s coffee legacy and steer Hacienda San Alberto to the model specialty producing farm it is now. They implemented practices they learned in France’s wine production sector to reach an even higher “standard”. The team deliberately chose a path of quality, technification and strong control over production. Hacienda San Alberto also obtained UTZ certification as a guideline for good administrative and agricultural practices. Along the way, two lots were added to San Alberto: the higher altitude La Ponderosa (1700-1800m) and the lower altitude El Paraíso (1500-1600m).
Nowadays, the farm itself is a picture perfect example of what specialty coffee in Colombia could look like, with the right knowledge and dedication of the producer. The team consists of two units: on one side, the agronomist José Jaír and his team of field managers and pickers; and the quality control team headed by Juan Pablo himself on the other. José Jaír oversees the entire production and selection steps until the dried parchment coffee rests in the farm’s small bodega in grainpro bags. Next, a sample of each bag goes to the farm’s lab for evaluation where they decide over the final destination of each lot.
This particular lot, “La Alsacia” is a 100% Caturra selection with an accessible red fruit profile. The FOB price paid was $3.50/lb, or the equivalent in $/kilo price $7.72/kg. Over 150% above market price.