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El Retiro | Colombia | Filter

We Nitrogen Flush all of our coffee when bagging for an inert shelf stable environment by locking freshness inside for up to 6 weeks prior to opening


Producer:  Gustavo de Jesus Rivera

Farm: El Retiro

Region: El Hato, Caicedo, Antioquia

Varietal: Caturra

Process: Washed

Altitude: 2200 masl


This micro-lot was produced by Gustavo de Jesús Rivera his wife Socorro Serna on their 3-hectare farm, El Retiro (meaning “the retreat” in Spanish) located near the small community of El Hato, in the municipality of Caicedo in Colombia’s Antioquia state.


El Retiro sits at a staggeringly high 2,200 meters above sea level in the high hills of El Hato. The Rivera family is an institution in the area, where they have produced coffee for decades. The high elevations and cool temperatures of the region were initially deemed unsuitable by many locals due to the lower harvest yields at high altitudes. Gustavo chose to plant solely the Caturra variety, which performs better in cooler climates than other varieties and yields exceptional cup quality at high altitudes whilst being protected from La Roya (leaf rust) at those elevations. 


The lot was selectively hand-harvested, with most labour being provided by the family. They were processed using the washed method at each farm’s ‘micro-beneficio’ (mill). The coffee was pulped using a small pulper, and then placed into a fermentation tank, where it was fermented for around 48 hours and then washed using cold, clean water from surrounding streams. It was then carefully dried (over 10–18 days) on parabolic beds, which are constructed a bit like a ‘hoop house’ greenhouse, and act to protect the coffee from the rain and prevent condensation dripping back onto the drying beans. The greenhouse is constructed out of plastic sheets and have adjustable walls to help with airflow, and temperature control to ensure the coffee can dry slowly and evenly.Once dry, the coffee was delivered to Pergamino’s warehouse, where it was cupped and graded, and then rested in parchment until it was ready for export.


El Hato is one of the highest sub-municipalities of Caicedo, and therefore in Colombia. Coffee in the area is grown on the side of deep canyons, dropping down to the mighty Cauca River, some 500m above sea level. The steep canyon walls trap warm currents, which circulate to higher ground and make it possible for coffee to be grown at such high elevations. The unique geological attributes of the region contribute to the outstanding cup profile of coffees farmed and processed in the area. Typically, farms in the area are very small – on average just 2 hectares in size- and are farmed traditionally, with most of the labour being provided by the family.


Smallholder farmers in El Hato were pioneers in planting and producing coffee at these high elevations. They were initially told by Colombia’s national coffee grower’s federation (Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros de Colombia or FNC) that it would be impossible to grow coffee in such a cool climate. However, many farmers bought land here out of necessity as it was much more affordable than at lower elevations, which were considered more prosperous for coffee production.

Their hard work has since paid off, with the area becoming recognised for the exceptional cup quality and characteristics. The cool climate is ideal for the slow ripening of coffee cherries, leading to denser beans and a sweeter, more complex cup profile. Coffees from El Hato now attract high premiums from specialty buyers, who are able to access the region through the work of exporters such as Pergamino who sourced this lot.


Credit: Words & Photos by Melbourne Coffee Merchants


El Retiro | Colombia | Filter

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