Pablo Andres Guerrero established Hacienda El Obraje as a coffee farm in 1999 on his family’s land near the town of Tangua, in the Nariño region of Colombia. This section of Nariño had primarily farmed cereals and was suffering from low prices caused by the recent importation of goods. Most of the farmers began to emigrate out of the area.
The mill started as a project to demonstrate the potential for growing coffee as a viable agricultural alternative for the region and to serve as a benchmark for good management, sustainability, and quality. The first year was complicated, as the Coffee Federation of Colombia didn’t believe that coffee could be grown in the high altitude of Tangua. Through effort and resilience, today Tangua is recognized as a land of excellent specialty coffee. Like other regions of Nariño, it features volcanic soil, yet also benefits from a microclimate of altitude and geography that allows the coffee to grow in low temperatures. This produces very dense and flavorful coffee beans sought after in the world of specialty coffee.
Currently, Tangua features a local community of small-holder producers who are working together to market themselves as a premier region committed to developing high-quality, specialty-oriented coffee.
This movement has been supported by the mill at El Obraje, where the goal goes beyond the cultivation of specialty coffee to teach proper land management and instill a sense of the shared responsibility needed to mitigate global warming. Support begins with estate planning for new farms, including identifying areas needing environmental protection as well as establishing water resources and irrigation.
Since El Obraje’s humble beginnings, Sr. Guerrero has made significant improvements to the farm. Where the coffee originally grew was completely exposed to the sun; experimentation with shade trees proved the low temperatures of the region were not detrimental to the coffee, but actually produced a higher quality. Today the farm is testing areas of different species and densities of shade plants. They have also planted several different, highly sought after varieties of coffee including Geisha, which produces very well in the microclimate of the farm.
The producers are also engaged in ongoing research to help validate the best techniques of post-harvest management. This includes experiments with wet milling, fermentation, and drying.
Along with the efforts being made to succeed as a specialty coffee region, Hacienda El Obraje is now highly engaged in building the surrounding community and making a name for the farmers of Tangua Township by marketing their collaborations as a viable and profitable alternative for farmers. By entering into a Direct Trade partnership with PT’s Coffee, we and Sr. Guerrero hope to form a successful cooperation that provides a price incentive for Hacienda El Obraje and other nearby farms and produces the highest quality specialty coffee for our customers.