Colombia – Monte Bonito
On the road between Manizales and Honda sits the small town of Monte bonito. It borders the slopes of the Cerro Bravo and has a population of less than one thousand inhabitants. The town still holds onto the traditions of the campesinos (country folk) and allows a view into the history of the lives of farmers in the high Andes of Colombia. The town also has a tumultuos history, being heavily affected by the civil war and three times was taken over by the FARC in its past.
Most of the coffee growers from this region, are very small with only between 1 – 3 hectares each. There are 89 farmers in this group, each are responsible for the full management of their farm, picking the coffee themselves and only asking for help from their neighbours when needed.
During the harvest the coffee is picked, depulped and left to ferment for between 16 to 18 hours. Next day the coffee is washed and is then ready for drying. Some of the group members have ‘Eldas’ (drying platforms on the roof of the house), others have ‘carros quindianos’ (raised drying beds with a rail system ) the rest have a parabolic tents for drying the coffee for between 10 -14 days depending on the climate.
After this the coffee is delivered to the Manizales Cooperative collection point in the town. Here it is assessed and separated according to quality – the producers receive extra payment for high quality beans. There is also an extra premium for producers who deliver the coffee to the Cooperartive below 11% moisture. From the collection point the coffee then travels to the Manizales Cooperative warehouse where it is rested, milled and preppared for shipment.