COLOMBIA - SANDY & PILLO PINK BOURBON
Peach blossom & Manderine JuiceLuz Divia “Sandy” Fierro and to Elpidio “Pillo” Carrillo represent a younger generation of coffee growers from southern Huila, who are dedicated to producing high-quality coffee and committed to honoring the important legacy of their parents and grandparents, and for this we feel very fortunate to be able to work with them. We are excited to see what this year’s harvest brings to El Meson.
Peach blossom & Mandarin Juice
CULTIVAR: Pink Bourbon
PROCESSING: Washed | 24hrs Cherry, 24hrs tank
Luz Divia Fierro and her husband Elpidio grow coffee at their finca El Meson, located in the vereda of Berlin, in the municipality of Acevedo, Huila. Both Luz and Elpidio have nicknames by which they are known to their nearest and dearest; Luz goes by Sandy and Elpidio goes by Pillo. The couple inherited the farm from Pillo’s father Ángel, who is also a coffee producer, and farms in a neighbouring vereda. We spoke with Pillo recently and he explained that him and Sandy work together as a team but they sell their coffee under her name.
Originally from Acevedo, Pillo grew up on another one of his family’s coffee farms, learning everything he could from Don Ángel. Sandy is originally neighbouring Pitalito. The couple moved onto the property where they now live and work a little over three years ago. They built a house and began working the land, planting 20,000 Pink Bourbon trees on pasture that had never been cultivated before, since El Meson used to be a cattle farm. Today, they grow the Pink Bourbon variety on eleven of El Meson’s 34 hectares. The originally planting is producing well, and this microlot comes from those inaugural trees. Two years ago, they planted another 26,000 trees which will produce their first harvest this year. Besides coffee, Pillo and Sandy grow plantains, yucca and sugar cane, all of which they use to feed their workers and themselves. They also keep four cows for milk. They have two young daughters—Laura Camila is nine and Salomé is three—and they are expecting their third child, a boy they will name Ángel Martin, after his grandfather.
El Meson’s soil is mostly loam, with a few pockets of sand. There is an area of protected forest reserve on the property, as well as a waterfall. The coffee plantation starts at 1,650 m.a.s.l and ascends to approximately 1,700 m.a.s.l. The landscape is mostly hilly and steep, with parcels of flatter land. The family employs five workers to carry out non harvest chores such as weeding and fertilizing, the latter of which they do three times a year with both chemical and organic fertilizers. During the harvest season they employ up to 15 pickers from the departments of Cauca and Tolima, as well as a few locals, to carry out the careful, hand-selection of the Pink Bourbon cherry. The itinerant pickers live at the finca during the harvest months. Pillo, who is 36 years-old, and speaks with a kind, and very Huilense tone of voice, explained that it is very important to him and Sandy that their workers are paid well and feel comfortable during their time living on the farm. They pay the pickers per kilo harvested and they pay the off-season workers a daily wage. This year, Pillo foresees having to hire additional pickers since the 2020 harvest and fly crop look promising. After the cherry comes in from the fields, Pillo carries out the post-collection processing, or beneficio, himself. The harvest is put into large tanks that are filled with water in order to “float” the coffee and remove any debris or damaged and/or green cherries. The cherry then remains intact for 24 hours. The next day, Pillo de-pulps, and ferments the Pink Bourbon beans for another 24 hours in tanks. He then washes the coffee once and puts it out to dry on his rooftop-style dryer for anywhere from 18 days. In order to deliver his family’s coffee to Cadefihuila’s Pitalito point of sale and warehouse, he hires transport or sometimes enlists the help of his father.
Luz Divia “Sandy” Fierro and to Elpidio “Pillo” Carrillo represent a younger generation of coffee growers from southern Huila, who are dedicated to producing high-quality coffee and committed to honoring the important legacy of their parents and grandparents, and for this we feel very fortunate to be able to work with them. We are excited to see what this year’s harvest brings to El Meson.