As a part of our series featuring the coffee farmers we have long-standing relationships with and sharing their efforts to produce outstanding Colombian coffee, we would like to introduce Orlando Fierro from Hacienda El Porvenir.
Located in the municipality of Albán, Cundinamarca, at an altitude of 1,600 m.a.s.l., Hacienda El Porvenir has a century-long history in coffee production. Cundinamarca is a region in the centre of Colombia, where the first coffee farms in the country were founded in the 19th century, and is the third most important crop in the area, grown with environmentally-friendly agricultural practices that produce highly balanced coffees characterized with citrus and caramel flavour notes.
Orlando and his family work to combine the best of the natural characteristics of their land with their thoughtful agricultural, harvest and processing practices.
Let’s get to know Orlando and why he produces a coffee we love.
Tell us about you. How did you start in coffee production?
I’m a third-generation coffee farmer, and a civil engineer. When I was finishing my studies, my father fell very sick with cancer, and I went to help him with the farm. After that, I went to work as a coffee trader in our region, and in a nearby town. After my father died, I started a coffee company with my siblings. That is how I ended up in coffee.
I have always alternated coffee production with my engineering job, and have also been working at the farm for 40 years.
What are the main challenges you have faced as a coffee producer?
Climate change has definitely been an issue. Many years ago, our average rainfall used to be 1200 mm per year. Now we have over 3000 mm per year. As a consequence, our coffee production has dropped significantly. Additionally, when the International Coffee Agreement imposing export quotas ended in 1989, the prices of Colombian coffee decreased tremendously.
The sales price was significantly below production costs. We had to switch our production scheme in the farm and started producing shade-grown and organic coffees. We went from producing high volumes to focusing on quality and paying special attention to the varieties we grow.
What is your motivation to improve the quality of the coffee you produce?
We would like to explore higher-paying markets. Currently, we are in the process of choosing the coffee varieties that are better suited to our farm. Maragogype and Pink Bourbon have delivered good results.
Tell us about your relationship with Colombia Coffee Roasters
Our relationship started back when Milly hadn’t opened her business. She was keen to open her own roastery, and I started to focus on producing high-quality coffee in 2005, and began experimenting with the honey process. She tried my coffee and to this day, she buys my entire harvest of 110 sacs of honey-processed coffee and 20 sacs of natural coffee every year.
It has been 10 years, and she has never received a coffee with defects or low quality. We have been improving our practices in the farm, and we have learned from our past mistakes.
Which is your favourite coffee variety?
I am loving Maragogype, because it has a great balance between production quantity and high quality. However, regardless of the variety, I choose the honey processing method because it highlights the attributes of the coffees I produce.