The Valle de Cauca is a beautiful diverse region found in the South West of Colombia. You can find both coastal lowlands and high mountain ranges covered in green carpets of tropical forest. The high towering peaks of Cauca belong to the Cordillera Occidental and Cordillera Central. Two ‘sub-sections’ of the massive Andes mountain range that cross the entire West of South America.
Cauca is home to the Nasa tribe. The Nasa are an indigenous group of people that live in harmony with nature. They believe that they are stewards of nature and need to protect their environment. The Nasa even organize raids to make sure nature is not harmed. They hack down sugar cane, burn the plots, and replant the area with maize and cassava; more traditional crops. These actions might be considered extreme, but the Nasa take their role seriously. Their motives are deeply embedded in their culture and beliefs.
The people of Colombia, and in particular Cauca, have survived a history of narcotics and violence. This unrest has destabilized the region and left deep scars within communities. The peace accords in Colombia have shifted this balance, however. With the arrival of peace, coffee started to prove to be an alternative for the Nasa. A majority of Nasa have turned their backs on illicit economic opportunities and chose coffee. Coffee has delivered hope and economic growth.
Coffee is considered to be one of the tools for peace in Cauca. The Cencoic Cooperative is one of the groups that has understood the ‘peace-movement’ of coffee. Through coffee, Cencoic strives to improve the lives of its members. The Coop offers advice, education, and assistance during harvest and processing.
Cencoic has 19 groups and a total of 2757 smallholder families; all leaning heavily on the income from coffee. These families are spread out over the Toribio, Santander de Quilichao, Caldono, Morales, El Tambo, Corinto, Miranda, and Almaguer Municipalities. On average, producers own a plot of 0,87 hectares and their farms are situated between heights of 1400 to 2200 m.a.s.l.. The varieties Castillo, Caturra, Typica, and Bourbon are favored and popular among growers.
The Cencoic Cooperative can offer an array of quality lots from Valle de Cauca. This is because they have connected, and set up 19 associations. Each association is a flexible entity and can oversee and improve daily operations. As Trabocca, we have started to work together with two associations; Asprocrit and Asprole.
The Café Femenino and Reserva Caldono lots are produced by the Asprole association – one of the larger groups within Cencoic. Café Femenino is produced by 932 farmer families that live within the Popayán Municipal. Café Femenino is a homage to the women of the Nasa tribe. Because in daily life, women take a prominent role and are often the head of the family. Cencoic recognizes and respects the influence of women within the community, and in coffee production. The Reserva Caldono is produced by 454 producers that find a home in the Caldono Municipal.
The Reserva Tacueyo lots are produced by the Asprocrit association – another large group within the Cencoic Cooperative. The members of the Asprocrit association, numbered at 516, live within the Toribio municipal. The majority of the Asprole and Asprocrit association families belong to the Nasa tribe.
The families strive to pick and pulp their coffee on the same day. They ferment the parchment in their own backyard for 14 to 18 hours; using clean ceramic tanks. The weather conditions, however, decide the length of the fermentation. In warm areas farmers maintain a 12-hour slot, in colder zones the parchment ferments for 18 hours.
After rinsing, the parchment is moved to the patio, where farmers have installed parabolic dryers. Parabolic dryers are used to dry the parchment more efficiently as opposed to sun drying. Parabolic dryers, in fact, African drying beds with a plastic covering, use less air and even protect the parchment. The drying is completed and perfected when the parchment reaches 11,5% moisture content.
The coffees of Cencoic, Reserva Caldono, and Reserva Tacueyo have unique profiles. However, we notice there are similarities between the coffees from Cauca. For instance, the floral, caramelized, and honey-like aromas. And, notes of caramel, red fruits, citrus, tangerine, and chocolate. In general, the bodies are juicy and full, the acidity present, but gentle.
We met the people of Cencoic during World of Coffee 2018 in Amsterdam. Because Amsterdam is our hometown, we could spontaneously organize a cupping with them in our lab. We were sold on the spot.