This unique coffee is made up from some of the tops lots near to the town of China Alta; around 15km as the crow fliesfrom the capital of Tolima, Ibagué. Although most of the coffee from the state comes from its southern regions ofPlanadas and Chaparral,for this new lot (2020), our export partner Pergamino decided to focus on exploring thisexciting region.
The department of Tolima is well known in speciality coffee circles due to its ideal, moist, growing conditions. Theregion sits on the Cordillera Central, in the middle of the three mountain ranges that run from North to South throughColombia, giving ita multitude of microclimates well-suited to high-quality coffee production. These mountains creep upfast, climbing form 1,300 masl to 2000 masl in a matter of 30 or 40 km (although this is on a back road that takes 3hours). This is partly where the region gets its name, as the word ‘Tolima’ comes from the local indigenous languageand means a“river of snow or cloud”.Due to the range in weather conditions, the growing environment changesgreatly in different areas of the department. This means that coffee production is broken up into North Tolima (such aswhere this lot is from)-where generally speaking the main harvest is September through December-and South Tolima,where the main harvest is March through June.
Initially known during colonial timesfor its rich gold mines, the capital, Ibague, is now a bustling metropolis of over400,000 people, and truly connected to the coffee-growing areas around it. The city of Ibagué is also known as the“Ciudad del Abanico”, translating to English as the ‘Folding Fan City’. This is because when you look at it from the sky,the rivers spread out over the mountains like a beautiful handmade folding fan. These rivers will travel down themountains, supplying water for the rice and cotton farms below.
Tolima has historically been difficult to traverse. In recent years, the area was heavily infiltrated by the Colombian leftistarmy, the FARC. FARC presence contributed to the region’s isolation and gave the area a reputation as being unsafeand violent. Only sinceapproximately 2012, as the Colombian government maintains peace talks with the rebels, hasit been safe enough to travel to the district.
Coffee is the leading agricultural activity in the region, followed by the production of beans and the raising of cattle.These small scale farming activities provide the largest percentage of employment by a significant margin. Theimportance of coffee to the local economy and livelihoods cannot be overstated