Meet the Farmer: Rodrigo Sanchez
It takes a lot of people to make a quality cup of coffee. From roasting to serving, every team member of the Hub Coffee Roasters plays a critical role in bringing people together over a cup of the good stuff. There’s one group of people who are the unsung heroes working behind the scenes of our business; without them, we would not be able to do what we do --coffee farmers.
Rodrigo Sanchez is one of those key producers in our business. First place winner of the Yara Championship in 2017, Rodrigo grows the best coffee in Colombia. Mark Trujillo, owner of the Hub Coffee Roasters, met Rodrigo on an origin trip to Colombia in 2013. Over the last few years, Mark and Rodrigo have worked collaboratively to bring Rodrigo's coffees to Reno through networking and relationship building. It began small with a few hundred pounds of his farm's signature Caturra the El Progreso. In Fall of 2017, we were able to source five different coffee varieties from Rodrigo, including some that are very unique to Rodrigo's farms that you would not find anywhere else. Even more exciting -- we were able to bring Rodrigo to Reno to help us roast his coffee and to present his coffee with us at the 2017 U.S. CoffeeChamps in Reno last December.
Here’s a breakdown of the coffees we have had from Rodrigo Sanchez.
The caturra we call the “El Progreso” is a staple of Rodrigo’s farms. This variety was first planted at the Finca El Progreso by Rodrigo’s grandparents in the 80s and they have maintained this variety ever since due to its excellent cultivation behavior and its flavor profile when cupped. Although Caturras are susceptible to coffee rust, Rodrigo has been able to contain and control the coffee rust allowing him to keep his coffee plantations healthy. This variety is recognized as one of Rodrigo Sanchez’s best coffees by his customers year after year. This is a wet process coffee. In a wet process, water is used to remove the cherry from the seed before allowing the seeds to ferment and later dried.
Then we have the variety known as “Bourbon 300” or “Tekisic.” This variety came to Rodrigo from a producer in El Salvador by way of seed exchange. It was planted at Finca Monteblanco in 2014 where it had a hard time adapting to the soil resulting in a deficiency in calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. After several attempts, they discovered this coffee had a lot of potential. They found that natural or honey processes worked best with this coffee variety. It is similar in structure to a castillo variety meaning it is less vulnerable to rust and other diseases than the caturra variety. The Bourbon 300 we serve is a natural process coffee. In a natural process, the cherries of the coffee plant are left on the bean as they dry, typically resulting in a higher concentration of natural sugars.
In 2009 Rodrigo Sanchez planted 25,000 Caturra trees on his farm Finca El Progreso in the region of Palestina Colombia. 20 of the trees planted were phenotypically different in their structure, grain and leaf color, and their susceptibility to coffee rust. In 2012, those 20 trees did not suffer from defoliation like the other caturras and had a different profile from the other trees when cupped. In order to differentiate these trees from the other caturras, Rodrigo named this plant the “Caturra Purpura” or the “Purple Caturra” because of its resemblance to the variety known as “Purpuraceas”. Rodrigo now has more than 12 acres of the Purple Caturra growing on his other farm, Finca Monteblanco. This is a wet process coffee.
Like the “Purple Caturra,” the “Bourbon Rosado” or “Pink Bourbon” started from an old, small lot that was on Rodrigo’s grandfather's farm which was later passed down to his parents. This coffee stands out visually because of its distinct coloring. When it was tasted, the coffee stood out in the cup as well. When Rodrigo asked his grandfather about the history of this coffee, he was told that the seed had been obtained from the plantations on San Adolfo in the 80's. The other farmers at the time hadn't yet discovered the potential of this tree. This variety has done very well at Finca Monteblanco and they are very proud of its flavor and potential. This is a wet process coffee. The Pink Bourbon is the coffee that won Rodrigo first place in the Yara International Gold Cup Championship, making it the best coffee in Colombia.
The Geisha variety was first planted at Finca El Progreso in 2013 as a cooperative project with several producers in the region searching for genetic improvements to their coffee plants. In 2016, this Geisha’s first crops performed excellently in their cupping even though the crop itself had a difficult time adapting. After working with these plants for the last five years, Rodrigo now understands how this coffee reacts to the climate and the soil of the region. He has taken the finest seeds from his lot at Finca El Progreso and has created a second lot at his other farm Finca Monteblanco. This is a wet process coffee.
As our business continues to grow, we are able to make more of these personal connections with coffee producers. The more connections we make, the more coffee we are able to sell, and the more we are able to help coffee farmers and their families as well as every other part of the coffee supply chain. Rodrigo is one of a handful of coffee farmers the Hub currently sources from. We are very proud of our relationship with Rodrigo and our other producers and look forward to our continued mutual growth and success.