Colombia Santa Barbara
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We Taste: Starfruit, Blueberries, Dark Chocolate
Recommended Brew Methods: Hario V60, Aeropress
Country/Region: Colombia, Antioquia
Varietal: Variedad Colombia
Elevation: 1850 m.a.s.l.
The Santa Barbara Estate is a family-owned coffee company in Latin America, dedicated to the production and export of Colombian estate coffee. The company's beginnings date back to the early 20th century, where Don Alejandro Angel established himself as one of the first major importers of Colombian coffee. Seeing the enormous potential for the crop, he opened new markets amongst the European and American traders, at a time when coffees from Colombia did not have the reputation that it now holds.
This legacy inspired Pedro Echavarria, the husband of one of Don Alejandro’s great grand-daughters, who ventured into coffee-growing three decades ago. One of the most important decisions when it comes to growing coffee is the location. Santa Barbara offers a microclimate with volcanic soils, perfect altitude, along with a picturesque view of the Adean mountains.
Starting with a modest amount of land, Echavarria quickly grew his production capacity, expanding both the cultivation area and the farm’s reputation. Today, Santa Barbara Estate is composed of 5 sister farms that lie across three neighbouring geographical regions - Santa Barbara, Fredonia and Amagá.
As the estate has grown, so has their pursuit for innovation in processing methods. A few years ago, the team began experimenting with processing small lots using the natural method. After being hand-harvested and sorted, these coffees were first dried on raised beds under shade, then spread thinly on screens encased in wooden boxes. They are regularly turned to ensure even drying. Thereafter, the cherries are moved out of the shade and dried under sunlight for 3 days until the correct moisture content, before being stored in silos for another 48-72 hours to rest.
Santa Barbara Estate employs 60 people all year round, who earn 30% above the minimum wage. Half of these staff also receive free lodging at the farm for themselves and their families. When the main harvest season arrives, an additional 1200 pickers are hired.
In addition, the estate also runs an extensive scholarship program for the worker’s children, as well as helping workers acquire their very own piece of land upon retirement. These initiatives contribute to the sustainability of Santa Barbara Estate. It is no wonder that most of the workers are long-term employees, and have been with the company for over 10 years.