Finca Monteblanco, located high along the winding mountain roads of Vereda La Tocora in the San Adolfo municipality above Pitalito, is a family farm managed by Rodrigo Sanchez Valencia in the tradition of coffee cultivation that began with his grandfather. Monteblanco’s 18 hectares sit on the crest of a hill, with the wet mill and drying facilities at the top and slopes of coffee planted below.
In 2002, Rodrigo participated in a local program teaching children of coffee producers to cup. Before that, he and his family had never considered coffee in terms of cup profile. By learning to differentiate profiles, he, his father, and grandfather were able to make the connections between the farming techniques they applied and coffee’s attributes in the cup.
At this time, Rodrigo also began to learn about cupping competitions that evaluate the best lots from farms in a region. He noticed that farms would win one year and then never again, so he decided to investigate how to produce quality coffee consistently. This led him to explore the trees planted on Monteblanco, where he discovered various varieties his grandfather had planted in the 1980’s.
In addition to the varieties most common in Colombia, Rodrigo found there were trees he had not noticed before, trees with different characteristics, including broad leaves that looked like Gesha. In the cup, the coffee he harvested also shared qualities with Gesha. This was the beginning of Pink Bourbon lot separation at Monteblanco. Rodrigo learned that his grandfather had bought those seedlings in San Adolfo during the early 80’s during a leaf rust attack of la roya when he had to replace a portion of the farm’s trees.
In San Adolfo and Palestina, the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation ran an experimental farm in the 50’s and 60’s planted with 500 varieties, so Rodrigo and his grandfather think the trees probably originated from that farm. In 2014, Rodrigo planted three hectares of Monteblanco with Pink Bourbon and was delighted with its adaptability, productivity, and resistance to leaf rust. The cherries ripen to a rosy pink/orange color, giving the name to this unique coffee variety.
Harvesting and processing on Monteblanco have had to evolve with the times, adapting to a changing climate that yields harvest dispersed through ten months of the year rather than in a concentrated peak. All cherries harvested are measured for degrees Brix. Based on the sugar content indicated, the team at Aromas del Sur—the umbrella group of Rodrigo and his wife Claudia’s farms including Monteblanco, Progreso, La Loma, Las Nubes, and others—then designates which processing method is appropriate. Coffees selected for the innovative Thermal Shock Washed process are harvested at 23° Brix.
Thermal Shock Washed processing begins with fermenting the cherries whole in sealed bags for 40–60 hours until the cherries’ temperature reaches 35–40°C. The fermented cherries are then pulped and moved to the cold room where they are fermented at 12–14°C for 50 hours. After this second fermentation stage, the coffee is full washed and shade-dried on a drying patio.
Rodrigo is proud that he, his wife Claudia Samboni, farm manager Don Gerardo, and the team that works in the fields and at the mill have reached their goal of achieving consistent quality. Each harvest, Finca Monteblanco produces microlots that serve as competition coffees around the world, but the farm also consistently produces containers of delicious coffees that appear year-round on café menus and retail shelves. By applying an ethic of rigorous monitoring, planning, and management of each stage of production and processing, all coffees from Monteblanco showcase their full potential.
Listen to Rodrigo explain this innovative post-harvest process in his own words!
Want to try this coffee before you buy it? Order a Green or Roasted samplehere.
The Colombian Department of Huila is located in the southern portion of the country where the Central and Eastern ranges of the Andes mountains converge. Huila’s capital city of Neiva is dry, flat, and desert-like, markedly different from the coffee regions further south.
Centered around the city of Pitalito, Huila’s coffee farms are predominantly smallholder owned and over the past ten years have made concerted efforts to produce specialty coffee that reveals the full character of the region’s terroir. Selective manual harvesting, attentive processing, and careful post-harvest sorting all contribute to increasing recognition of the region.
Huila’s departmental coffee committee, the local connection to the national Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, has invested notable resources into training producers in everything from fertilization to roasting. This, combined with producer enthusiasm, has created a regional culture of quality-focused production.
Huila holds important historic significance dating back to pre-Columbian cultures. The archeological site at San Agustin includes a large number of stone carvings, figures, and artifacts that offer a rare glimpse into the land’s past prior to colonialism.
As part of our birthday celebration, you can save on select coffees in our Microlot and Reserve Lot collections! Buy two 25 lb boxes of coffee and get another 25 lb box FREE! Click the link to learn more!