More than 100 years ago, high in the Andean mountains of Colombia's Nariño region, Manuel Delgado felt it in his heart to donate his farm to the church he loved. The farm, Finca Villa Loyola, was to be a respite for Catholic church leaders and students. But church leaders had a different idea: they were more interested in using the farm to help the surrounding community.
Finca Villa Loyola turned into a work of pride, producing one of the very best coffees in all of Colombia, winning First Place in the Cup of Excellence in 2008.
Padre Gerardo Arango Puerto recognized the good fortune the farm had several years earlier and called on Mauricio Roseroa, a local resident and member of the church, to lead the efforts in continuing improvement at the farm. It was our good fortune in that Mauricio was a friend of PT’s Director of Quality Control, Maritza Taylor. On our first visit in 2011, we could clearly see the potential of the farm with its high elevation and Caturra variety. It was a winning combination.
After Padre Gerardo’s passing, leadership of Villa Loyola fell to Padre José Alejandro Aguilar Posada. Our nervousness of starting a new relationship with one of our favorite Direct Trade farms was quickly alleviated when we met Padre Joe. With a worldly education received in Colombia, Brazil, Congo, and the United States, Padre Joe had extensive knowledge and experience in agro-ecology, sustainability, rural development, regional sustainability, and eco-theology. Throughout his life and travels he had been deeply involved in sustainable agricultural development and rural economics. His unique background was perfectly suited for the work at Villa Loyola. With his guidance, Villa Loyola continued to advance its sustainable practices while improving the lives of the workers and surrounding community.
Since Padre Joe’s reassignment and departure from Villa Loyola in late 2019, leadership has been taken on by General Manager Alejandra Giraldo, with coffee production overseen by Agriculture Manager Diego Chicaiza. Born and raised on a coffee farm, Diego has worked various roles in the coffee industry in Colombia since beginning his career in 2008. A certified Q Grader and experienced quality control technician, Diego’s skill sets are fully utilized at Villa Loyola, where he manages coffee production, processing, cuppings for quality assurance, and the roasting program for locally sold coffee.
Alejandra and Diego have refined Villa Loyola’s processing techniques, having settled on baseline washed and natural processes after years of trial and error. For their standard washed process, coffee cherries are collected in 55 gallon drums, sealed, and allowed to further ripen for 72 hours. Afterward, the cherries are depulped and the coffee seeds are allowed to ferment aerobically in stainless steel tanks. After 36 hours, the seeds are floated and washed before being moved to shaded raised beds. For naturals, coffee cherries are placed in 15 gallon containers. A CO2 tank is used to purge the containers, which are then sealed and placed in a temperature stable room. The cherries are allowed to ferment for five days, with the containers flipped once a day to ensure a homogenous fermentation. Afterward, the cherries are moved to a mechanical dryer for five days before being moved to shaded drying beds to finish.
While these processes are becoming more common in the specialty coffee industry, they’re still far from the norm, with most consumers being unfamiliar with them. Incredibly, these are the standard processes used by Villa Loyola for all of their coffees roasted and sold locally in Nariño. If you ever find yourself in the Antonio Nariño Airport, you can pick up a bag of locally grown and roasted carbonic maceration natural from Villa Loyola!
Learn more about recent sustainability projects on the farm in Maritza Taylor's blog post.
Past offerings from Villa Loyola:
Villa Loyola Carbonic Maceration
Villa Loyola Washed