Hacienda La Papaya located in the Saraguro region of Ecuador. Back in March 2016 I visited Hacienda La Papaya and based on that time I want to share with you the beauty of this farm.
This is absolutely magnificent and well-organized farm I saw in Ecuador. Juan Francisco Peña Guillen is an agronomist by profession, and previously worked for flowering company exporting roses to Russia. He got passion for coffee and got into the industry after acquiring the farm, about 6 years ago. When he got this farm it did not have any coffee trees whatsoever, and Juan decided to change that and plant 3 hectares of coffee. The total area of the farm is 80 hectares. He has about 3,800 coffee tress per hectar.
The location is perfectly suitable for coffee growing with an altitude of 1,861m above sea level. His main varietal is typica, but he also has some pacas, san salvador and caturras. The one part of the farm is recenly planted with sidra varietal and it would take about 3 years for sidra to start producing.
Juan has about 6 workers, very dedicated workers whose efforts and hard labor makes his coffee very unique and special. Each worker get paid about $27.50 per day clear after social security and medical insurance coverage that Juan pays as portion to the government. Juan is very punctual and dedicated person of specialty coffee when it comes to picking; only ripe cherries that should be processed meticulously. Hacienda La Papaya mostly concentrates in washed process. Juan tries to experiment with honey and natura processes but due to climatic condition, rainy season it makes it hard to process great natural process. Hacienda experienced rainy season during my tie there. When it rains almost 4 times a day for 20 minutes which creates difficulties for concentrating on honey or natural process. But Hacienda La Papaya produces coffees every single day, 365 days a year with low crop comes around October to December.
Juan’s passion and perfect immaculate details to produce high quality coffee earned him great reputation within specialty coffee industry. His main buyer is Cafe Imports.
I had absolute pleasure to try typica from Hacienda La Papaya, and ohhhhh……man, it blew my mind. This was the only mind blowing cup of coffee I ever tried while in Ecuador. This cup was so complex with rich body, velvety mouthfeel, soft kiwi like acidity with flavors of strawberry, raspberry, melon, babaco fruit, meyer lemon, magnolia, and others. I just could not believe it myself. I felt like I just discover my little castle inside this little paradise.
Workers work from Monday thru Friday and have weekend off. They start picking at 8am until 12. One hour lunch and continue until 4pm and after that start immediate processing. Floaters removed and separated, the rest go into fermentation tank after de-pulping which removes 80% of musiliage. After washed fermentation coffee goes on drying bed until it reaches moisture between 10 to 11%
I also encouraged Juan (in order to generate additional income) to start producing cascara, dried coffee flowers (picking after polination) for tea and coffee blossom syrup that I experimented while working at the coffee farm Adelphia in Puerto Rico.
Each worker has some duty assigned, from picking, processing, drying,fumigation, etc., and everything documented on the board with name of worker and duty performed on given day. After picking coffee weight by quintal. After washed process completed all area thorougjly get cleaned. Pulp from the cherries is used as compost for coffee trees (you give mother nature back what you take from her).
Hacienda La Papaya does not have leaf rust issue and the reason for that as Juan told me was that they spray trees as preventive measures not to make la roya happen. Broca is also not existent at the farm and as Juan said “we do pick every day not allowing broca to strive”, and clean under the trees as well.
Hacienda has four main reservoirs where it collects water during rainy season. The reservoir is used as irrigation during off rain season and one of the tank shown on one photo is used to spray required chemicals to prevent leaf rust.
Hacienda has other abundant trees growing in that area like pines including fruits (oranges, lemons, mandarins, etc. that used for family consumption). In some of the photos if you notice some typicas has yellow leaves and some dark green in different areas of the farm. And the reason for this is not sickness but the way how sun light gets on them. One side of the farm receives more sun light then the other side. There are little of Geisha varietals planted on the farm, and I gave some of Geisha seeds I had to Juan to continue planting them on the farm.
There are more to write about this farm, more to talk about, but I am so honored I had this fabulous opportunity to be invited by Juan and have the full experience of the farm. But one thing is his coffee…..I felt in love with that typica cup I had. My whole trip to Ecuador was complete. Any of you, roasters around the world who want to experience difference and try one of the best coffees from the center of the Equator, you won’t regret it. Get in contact with Juan and discover the beauty Ecuador has to offer.