Visiting the coffee farm, Fincas Los Rodriguez in Bolivia
Fincas Los Rodriguez is located in Caranavi, Bolivia. The nature, culture and people of this region are impressive, just like their coffees are astounding. Fincas Los Rodriguez consist of seven different farms or lots of land, all owned by the Rodriguez family. For the past two years we’ve bought coffee from the family, you may remember the coffee from Finca Alasitas and the one from Finca Don Carlos. The lots are called Fincas but are mainly fields with coffee trees on. All cherries from there is brought to their central wet mill, also for Natural processing, and there is no farm house on the fields of these Fincas. Therefore, it made sense to us when they began referring to themselves as Fincas Los Rodriguez.
A place to learn and perfect the art of growing coffee
The Rodriguez family are continually doing a great effort to lift the quality of Specialty Coffee in Bolivia. For example, they have demoplots that works as a training area for other farmers in the country. This is part of a teaching programme, they call Sol de Mañana where they educate in practices to increase yields and quality.
In Bolivia the coffee industry just dates back to the 1970’s, meaning a majority of farmers don’t have the same strong traditions for how to grow coffee as the farmers of i.e. Ethiopia. This said, the coffee growing practices are very different from the two countries and should be compared with care. To assist in developing a Bolovian culture for how to grow coffee in a way that is financially sustainable for the small-hold farmers they are invited to come and learn the techniques of the Rodriguez family who among other things have refined their pruning and field management in general.
When visiting the Fincas Los Rodriguez in September, the programme has grown to obtain more than 50 participants. And even though, it is still in its prime up-start, the positive awareness is spreading. Neighbours of the participants are inspired to optimize their own field management. And even the government of Bolivia seems to be recognising the potential in the work of the Rodriguez’; On my way in Caranavi I noticed a large coffee nursery, sponsored by the government, filled with tiny sprouts waiting to be planted, inspired by the Sol de Mañana project.
For these small farmers being part of the ongoing programme, Sol de Mañana, is a way of trying to change the declining trend of exports from Bolivia. According to the International Coffee Organisation, the exported coffee volume is on a rapidly decreasing trend, that might indicate no exports from Bolivia in a few years.
Another year of Coco
This is the third year we’ve visited the Rodriguez’. I met up with father and daughter, Pedro and Daniela in Caranavi, meanwhile the son, Pedro Pablo ran their Fincas in Samaipata.
Samaipata is another coffee region in Bolivia that the Rodriguez’ have attempted to push forward. The trees are extremely well organized and healthy. It’s clear that the Rodriguez, have an exceptional eye for details also when it comes to growing coffee.
At their mill in Caranavi, they experiment with different processing methods, to optimize different varieties. Much like we develop different roast profiles for different green coffees. We have been really happy with the Coco Natural for the past years, and since it is growing in popularity, they have been compelled to make use of every horizontal spot available, to make room for new drying beds. They have also invested in new Coco Dryers, where they very slowly and consistently can dry the Coco Naturals after they have dried the first days on the raised beds.
These past years, we’ve enjoyed wonderful coffees from the different farms of the Rodriguez’. And this year will not be an exception, simply because of the overwhelming impression I got at the cupping table. The coffees will go by the name, Fincas Los Rodriguez.