- On June 13, 2018
- colombian coffee hugo gonzalez, finca el eden, hugo gonzalez, vigilante coffee
Farm: El Eden
Farm Owner: Hugo Gonzalez
Hugo, a 3rd generation coffee farmer, purchased the land on which he grows his coffee 5 years ago. Due to rising temperatures brought on by Climate Change, Hugo’s first farm started to become susceptible to coffee insects (the Borer Beetle) as well as coffee rust (Roya). Hugo decided to sell his farm and purchase new land at the top of the mountain range in Garzon. This plan worked and the land was cheaper because he was much further away from the town. 5 years prior, one could not grow coffee at that high elevation of the mountain, but due to the rising temperatures it is now the perfect climatic conditions to grow specialty coffee. Hugo’s new farm is 3.5 acres and he grows approximately 14,000 coffee trees. In 2017, he pruned 2,000 trees. The varietals he grows are Caturra (2500 trees), Castillo (1500), and Colombia (yes, that’s the name of the varietal; 8000 trees).
The two crops Hugo grows commercially are dragon fruit & coffee. He employs 5 additional coffee pickers during harvest, but his family does most of the labor in producing their coffee. His son manages the farm, Hugo is in charge of drying the coffee (a delicate and important step in ensuring cup quality), and Hugo’s wife is in charge of making meals for the family and the employees of the farm as well as keeping everyone happy. Their daughter is in school to become a nurse.
I ask the same series of questions to the farmers I meet on my many travels to coffee origin. Here are the responses from Hugo.
What do you love about coffee?
“Besides drinking it, I love when the trees are getting ready to be harvested. They begin changing colors, first white (the coffee flower), then green (the first signs of the coffee cherry), then bright red (when the trees begin to look pregnant).”
What is the most challenging thing in producing your coffee?
“To produce a coffee that makes it worth a person coming to visit our farm.”
What impact has climate change had on your coffee?
“In some ways it has been positive. I am able to produce coffee at 1800-1900 meters in elevation, where I previously could not. This is why I sold the other farm I had at lower elevation. The lower elevation created a huge problem and [it was] difficult to combat the insects attacking the coffee as well as roya the coffee rust.”
How many bags of coffee do you produce annually?
“32 bags.” (we were lucky to snag 5 bags of his AAA (highest quality) grade lots)
What are some of your goals for next year?
“To improve overall production, improve cup quality, and to further develop and improve our drying facility.”
This is my favorite question to ask. I love this question because it truly opens a person up, I learn what food they most love, what drink they must have, and what kind of music speaks to their soul.
Here’s the scenario/question…
“You’re stuck on an island. You’re alone and you’ll be on this island for the rest of your life. What food, what drink, and what album would you take to this island? This is what you will eat, drink, and listen to for the rest of your life on this island. Choose wisely.”
Food: “Sancocho.” “sancocho is basically a very thick soup made with root vegetables and different kinds of meats, in a broth, usually flavored with herbs (cilantro or parsley), combined with achiote, garlic, onion, scallions and bell peppers. It is almost a stew, but still considered a soup.” – MyColombianRecipes.com”
From three farmers I interviewed 2 of them responded Sancocho. The meal they enjoy every day.
Drink: “My coffee.”
Album: “Jose Luis Peralez: greatest hits”
We hope you enjoy Hugo’s coffee as much as we do!