We were very happy to get the opportunity to produce a series of IG Live events last month as Ally Coffee’s COO Ricardo Pereira and Ally Coffee’s Green Coffee Buyer in Colombia Elena Lokteva visited Pitalito, Huila, Colombia. Through three events we were able to talk to Rodrigo Sanchez and Claudia Samboni of Aromas del Sur, Vicente Mejia of Clearpath Coffee, and Elkin Guzman of Finca El Mirador, covering a range of topics including their histories in coffee, the process of milling and exporting coffee at the Aromas del Sur dry mill, the inspirations that continue to fuel their collective innovative approach to Colombian coffee, and much more.
Rodrigo Sanchez examining coffee in the drying area of Finca La Loma
A History and Tour of Finca La Loma
Our first of the three Live events features Ricardo getting the chance to interview Rodrigo and Claudia at their farm, Finca La Loma. Aromas del Sur—which also includes Finca Monteblanco, El Progreso, and Finca Las Nubes—has earned a reputation for experimentation in coffee cultivation and processing, and Rodrigo discusses not only how La Loma became the hub for this experimentation, but also how people like his wife Claudia and friend Elkin Guzman act as collaborators and partners in innovation. On a walking tour of parts of the property we also get to see the space where fermentation and processing happens, where barrels of coffee were being fermented with additives like passion fruit and other local fruits in processes that Rodrigo and Claudia have worked to fine-tune. The conversation concludes with visiting two different drying areas where both Natural and Washed coffees are being dried, giving us a full look at the stages of production between harvest and milling.
The interview is full of both insights into coffee production and looks into the history of their growth as producers, like Rodrigo’s personal history with tasting Pink Bourbon for the first time and then discovering that his grandfather had planted some decades prior, and the journey that has brought coffee production across the Aromas del Sur company away from traditional varieties and processing to many foreign and lesser-grown coffees processed using Honey, Natural, anaerobic and multi-stage fermentations. Check out the IGTV replay to see the whole interview and tour.
Vicente Mejia and Ricardo Pereira with Natural process coffee
A Visit to the Aromas del Sur Dry Mill
The second IG Live from Pitalito takes us to the Aromas del Sur dry mill, where Vicente Mejia guides us through the milling process from receiving dried coffee to packaging the final product for export. The mill was constructed with the intention of being equipped to handle small lots and coffees processed using non-traditional processes, while still having the capacity to process up to a full container of coffee every day. We get to see fresh arrivals being sampled and organized for traceability, the many stages of sorting that the mill uses, the cupping lab where Claudia manages the quality team, and the packaging areas where people work diligently to hand-sort any remaining defects from each lot.
The event is an educational experience highlighting not only the technology used to export high quality coffee, but also the many people that it takes for an operation like the Aromas del Sur dry mill to succeed. Watch the IGTV replay to see the process and the people that make the mill what it is.
Vicente Mejia, Rodrigo Sanchez, Jaime Mendez (farm manager of Las Nubes), Ricardo Pereira, Elkin Guzman, and Elena Lokteva
A Conversation at La Loma
The last of our three Live events takes us back to La Loma where Ricardo sits down with Rodrigo, Vicente, and Elkin Guzman to chat about coffee, friends, and family. Elkin discusses his history as a coffee producer and how he came to manage El Mirador farm, which is located just across Pitalito from La Loma. Elkin and Rodrigo have a long history of working together and inspiring each other to continue innovating, including their work together to develop the cold fermentation technique that they both use now on their farms for special lots. The conversation also details the ways in which they all rely on their teams and their families in their work, as well as the benefits of equitable partnerships between producers, exporters, and importers, paying tribute to the many hands that are involved in the process along the way.
This final Live is a wonderful peek into a conversation between friends and partners, highlighting the shared philosophies and passions that have driven everyone involved in the discussion to continue experimenting, learning, and moving coffee forward. Visit our IGTV channel to find all three parts of the conversation.
Tune In As We Go Live from Brazil!
We’re very excited for another series of IG Live events, this time from the Alta Mogiana and Chapadas de Minas regions of Brazil! Ricardo Pereira and Amanda Oliveria, Ally Coffee’s Green Buyer in Brazil, will be visiting Fazenda Minamihara, Fazenda Bela Epoca, and Fazenda Primavera to talk about coffee varieties in Brazil, Organic coffee production, and Primavera’s Cup of Excellence winning Gesha coffee. Join us May 19–25 for all three events.
Catch all of the details, schedule, and Live events on the Ally Open Instagram account, @ally.open!