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Each month we will be profiling one of our fabulous single origin coffees, telling you something about the farmers that grow the coffee, and giving you the chance to try it. We’re starting with one of our favourites, Finca El Tormento from Colombia, grown by Oscar Montoya Vasquez and his family.
Farm: Finca El Tormento
Varietal(s): Castillo, Colombia & Caturra
Processing: Dry pulped, fermented & washed; sun dried on raised beds (parihuelas)
Altitude: 1,750 – 1,850 metres above sea level
Owner: Oscar Montoya Vazques
Town: Vereda Serranias, Jardin Municipality
Region: Southwest Antioquia
Total size of farm: 5.5 hectares
Area under coffee: 5 hectares
Harvest months: April-May; October-November
Finca El Tormento lies high within the green, cool mountains of Southwest Antioquia – a region that has historically suffered widespread violence and, thus, has often been overlooked in Colombia’s powerhouse coffee producing regions. The farm was purchased by Oscar
Montoya Vazques’s father some 50 years ago, and it was here that he raised his four sons. After many difficult years of working the land, Oscar’s father began to focus on other economic activities – to the detriment to El Tormento. After his death five years ago, Oscar – the
eldest son – found himself with an inheritance of 5.5 hectares of beautiful, well-situated but much neglected prime coffee-growing land.
Oscar’s goal immediately became to maximise the farm’s potential for producing high quality coffee. With the help of his brothers, he has succeeded in making El Tormento a home for his family, a means to improve their quality of life and an exemplary farm, producing some of the best coffee in Antioquia.
Renovation of their coffee plantation is priority number one for the brothers. The farm is home to Caturra, Castillo, and Colombia trees: they have recently taken out all Catimor on the farm. Little by little, the plan is to replace the Caturra variety with hardier trees due to Caturra’s susceptibility to coffee leaf rust.
All renovation is completed using seedlings grown in the family’s own nursery, which is sown with seed carefully selected from the most
productive and well-adapted trees on the farm. Seedlings are used to renovate the oldest and least productive trees, with the end goal of maintaining productivity and quality.
Oscar and his brothers fertilise their trees three times a year: applications depend on the size of the particular lot and careful soil analysis. On average, some 80 grams is applied to young trees and 120 grams for those in full production. Weed control occurs three to four times a year (in February, July and November) to enable better tending of the plants and to help with access during the harvest, which occurs year-round, with the main harvest in October-November and the mitaca (fly crop) in April-May.
Coffee is entirely hand-picked on El Tormento, sorted to remove under-ripe and damaged cherries, ‘floated’ in clean water to further sort by weight, and finally de-pulped on the same day of picking. The pulped beans are then fermented for up to 48 hours. Two day lots are usually mixed together during the fermentation process, with coffee being pulped and fermented on the first day and then pulped again on day two before being added to the existing lot and fermented for another 24 hours. After fermentation is complete, the coffee is washed in fresh, clean water and then sun dried on the family’s raised beds (parihuelas) for three to seven days depending on the amount of coffee to be dried and the weather.
Almost all work on the farm is done entirely by Oscar and his three brothers. During the harvest they bring in another two individuals, but El Tormento really is a ‘family affair’. The brothers also produce plantain and bananas to sell locally along with yucca, tomato and beans, which they grow for their own consumption; but coffee is their first passion, and they plan to continue going onwards and upwards with the farm. They have plans to fully renovate and improve their wet mill in future years so that they can have more control over processing.
Damian first visited the Antioquia region of Colombia back in 2012, meeting the Andes Co-operative organization deep in mountainous terrain outside Medellin. They were working closely with great farms based at high altitudes, yet the coffee was just being sold as standard “Colombia” with little value to the co-op or the farmers.
The Andes co-op worked hard to separate all these great single farm coffees, improve quality and ensure there was a ready market for them. We’ve committed to buying coffee from Finca El Tormento since Dark Woods Coffee began; it’s a key coffee for us.
Medium roasted, highly aromatic and very flavoursome and balanced. A great coffee for filter brewing and cafetieres, and works at all times of day.
You can buy packs of Tormento here.