Country: Colombia
Town: Pitalito
El Naranjal
Altitude: 1,950m above sea level
Variety: Caturra, Colombia
Fully Washed (24 hours fermentation and dried on patio)
Maria Nelly Chavez

Floral and complex, with sweet mandarin acidity and notes of apricot jam, candied orange, and allspice, with a lingering honey finish.

About Maria Nelly Chavez (with thanks to Melbourne Coffee Merchants):

Maria Nelly Chavez’s farm, El Naranjal, is located in the Nariño region in the Southwest of Colombia, just above the equator and on the border with Ecuador. The region is strikingly mountainous and boasts no fewer than five volcanoes: Chiles, Cumbal, Azufral, Doña Juana, and Galeras. Nariño has excellent conditions both in terms of humidity and temperature to keep coffee in parchment for ongoing export shipments, and its location on the equatorial line provides a great angle of sun exposure for the extremely steep hills around the volcanoes.

Coffee in Nariño is grown at altitudes that reach up to 2,200 metres above sea level, some of the highest elevations at which coffee is grown in the world. The high altitude of cultivation allows for slow maturation and development of the coffee cherry, giving time for concentrated sugars to develop in the fruit and resulting in a very unique, sweet, and complex cup profile from this region.

Maria Nelly Chavez is in many ways a very typical coffee producer for the region; however, as a single mother of three children, she must work twice as hard to support her family—making her move into specialty coffee production all the more impressive. She is a native of the municipality of Buesaco, located at the eastern edge of Nariño, where she spent most of her adult life as a seasonal coffee picker, moving from farm to farm during the harvest and finding other jobs during the rest of the year in order to provide for her family.

Maria Nelly Chavez

Tired of living hand to mouth, Chavez—who goes by Nelly—knew she had to plan for her and her children’s future by owning her own farm. She began putting away a little money from each job, and by 2010 had saved up enough to purchase and plant her own piece of land. As of 2016, she is finally seeing a return on her investment. With 1.5 hectares currently under full production as of the 2016 harvest and another 1.5 scheduled to be fully harvested by 2017, Nelly is transforming herself into a medium-sized farmer of note for Buesaco. Overall she will have four hectares of prime coffee land when her farm achieves full production.

Hard work is her secret, and keeping faith in the potential of coffee has helped her carry through during the rough years. She is also a loyal member of the association Buesaco con Altura (Buesaco with Altitude), a producer group focused on improving its members’ quality of life by producing and selling coffee of the highest quality. Producer members have placed highly in Colombian Cup of Excellence competitions and continue to strive towards producing ever better coffee.