Santuario is a town and municipality in Colombia’s Risaralda Department. The town is situated along the Eastern side of the Cordillera Occidental mountain range, which starts to the North in Antioquia and runs all the way down to the border with Ecuador. The town was founded in 1886, with agriculture providing the economic drive for the region. Its high green hills provide an ideal location for coffee production.
Every family does their own harvesting - usually with the help of neighbours. After the red and ripe cherries are picked, they are pulped by passing them through a manual pulper at the family farm (usually located close to the main house). The waste from this process will be used later as a natural fertilizer for the coffee trees. Coffee is then fermented anywhere from 14 to 48 hours, depending on the weather and the farm’s location, and then washed using cold, clean water.
Once this process is complete, many of the farmers sun dry their parchment on patios or on the roofs of their houses (elbas). Farmers in this part of Huila have designed a mechanism by which they can slide the roof with pulleys to cover the coffee in case of rain. Some farmers dry their coffee on parabolic beds under the sun. These parabolic beds, known locally as marquesinas – which are constructed a bit like ‘hoop house’ greenhouses, with airflow ensured through openings in both ends – both protect the parchment from rain and mist as it is dried and prevent condensation from dripping back on the drying beans. Still others have their coffee dried in guardiolas.
The parchment is delivered directly by the producer to our exporting partner’s warehouse, where it will eventually be dry milled. Once the coffee is received, it is carefully graded and cupped.