Updated: Jan 12
Let's talk about Olletas...
Pictured here is a traditional coffee farmer’s kitchen, filled with Olletas, in Planadas, Tolima, regional home of the 167 coffee farming families who are a part of the Asociación de Productores Egológicos de Planadas (ASOPEP). Asopep has been fundamental in helping to share ways Colombian coffee culture can act as a 'peace-building, reintegration and repair resource' for victims of the conflict.
A staple in every Colombian household, Olletas are a type of pot, thinner than a pot and only a vertical handle.They are used to prepare Cafe de Olleta (traditional cotton filter coffee), Agua de Panela (hot water, lemon, and panela sugar) or Chocolate beverages, such as our favourite raw cacao Hot Chocolate.
Let's talk about recycling...
Following up on our previous section life in Planadas, Tolima, pictured here is a traditional recycling outpost used by families of the coffee-growing communities. Recycling and agriculture are interchangeable in organic coffee farming methods, where 'Insumos orgánicos' - organic fertiliser - is used to naturally enrich the soils with its high content of phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium, making it a 100% natural option. These organic fertilisers, in their preparation and application in coffee farms, are often a mixture of crop residues and litter which makes recycling also a cost effective method of enriching the fertility and health of the soils. 🌱
So although chemicals were traditionally promoted in order to yield faster results, as well as eliminate pests and diseases faster due to its chemical make-up, organic coffee farming in the community has become increasingly popular due to the long-run longevity of the coffee bean's quality by letting it live its natural life cycle! And that, in turn, helps improve the quality of lives for the farmers and their families. 👊🏽
Let's talk about drying Coffee Beans...
In our last part of our series exploring the households of Cooperativa Asopep in Planadas, Tolima, we're going to explore the process of dying coffee beans on rooftops.
Traditionally in Colombia, most of the coffee beans have been produced using the fully washed method, however in recent years the Centre for Coffee Research (Cenicafé) has formulated a new eco-method which vastly reduces the level of water needed by approx. 95%. This is otherwise known as the 'dry pulping method' which creates less burden for the environment whilst guaranteeing consistent quality from a lack of contamination. This method has become increasingly used across Colombia by small farmers who spread parchment across the flat roofs ('Elvas') of their homes to naturally dry the beans in the sun. As pictured in the photo, those beds of parchment are actually 'parabolic beds' which are constructed much like a greenhouse to ensure proper airflow at both ends. Doing so protects the parchment from unpredictable weather conditions as well as preventing condensation from humidifying the beans.
In most regions in Colombia, there are two harvests a year; a main one with bigger yield and a secondary one with lower production. In Tolima, with its close proximity to the equator, the main harvest seasons peak in November and December - as we speak (published on November 26th, 2020).