Farmer Feature: Noralba Velandia, Finca El Nogal

Farmer Feature: Noralba Velandia, Finca El Nogal

Jan 31, 2018Stephen Robertson

Finca El Nogal is situated in the Quindío Department in West-Central Colombia. The Quindío department, crossed by the Andes, is comprised completely of mountainous terrain and tropical rain forest. Quindío is also known to produce the highest quality Colombian coffees, and Finca El Nogal is consistently one of the highest ranking coffee productions in the region.

We were first introduced to the coffee of Finca El Nogal when Daniel Velasquez of Campesino Specialty Coffee purchased an auction lot on our behalf at the Best of Quindío competition. We loved the coffee and offered it as a special release in 2016, while Daniel, who also helps us import coffee from our partner, Finca El Ocaso, worked to build a relationship with farm owner Noralba Velandia.

In 2017, while in Quindio working with Finca El Ocaso to develop new processing techniques, we were able to visit Noralba at Finca El Nogal to see her operation and collect some samples of the current harvest. El Nogal is remote. The last 50 meters to the 1800masl farm house is a footpath straight up the mountain. Nora's home is accessible only by foot or motorbike, and her prized coffee trees surround her house and on-site wet mill.

Nora's children help her hand-pick the ripe coffee cherries on her three hectare farm. She then processes all of the coffee in her small wet mill before transferring it to her innovative drying beds that are integrated into the roof structure of her house. A traditional A-Frame roof rests on metal rails above a flat roof that serves as a coffee drying patio. The upper roof is retractable and can be easily pulled off the coffee during sunny hours, or back on at night or in case of rain.

Because of the small size of Finca El Nogal, the yearly production is always limited, but Nora takes that another step further by separating all of her farm's production into nano-lots based on quality and character. She is able to make changes to a number of variables during her coffee’s processing, creating customized processing procedures for each lot of coffee from her harvest. This expertise and attention to detail has earned her a reputation throughout the region, and many other small growers in the area look to her for advice and support in improving their coffee production and processing.

Nora represents a growing positive trend in the specialty coffee agriculture industry where women are taking on ownership, management, and production roles, bringing high quality, sustainable coffee to the market while also building save, equality driven working environments for both women and men in their community. To learn more about women and equality in coffee agriculture, check out this two-part piece by Blanchard’s Shop Manager, Tamara South.

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