Colombian Coffee, from the mountains to your cup.

22 junio, 2015 by Revista Alternativa

Text by: Julieth Murcia

Photos by: Andres C. Valencia

Montañas de café, Del grano a la taza10

“We were raised in a coffee plantation, this has always been our work, we don’t know how to do anything else”

Libaniel Cardona, Chapolero (how coffee pickers are called ) Finca, Villa Malicia.

“When my mother was alive, she invited me to pray in a very special place of the farm (Villa Malice, located in the region Cuchilla de Los Santa, by the way to the neighbourhood La Linda) and before she started praying  she used to say; “Thank God for this beautiful landscape, for allowing my eyes to see this beauty”.

She was referring to the clouds, the stars, mountains and coffee plantations that still can be seen from the back of this traditional farm. Words of Luz Estela Salazar, owner of Villa Malice.

“Young people don’t want to work in the field”

Juan Carlos Ortega, a lover to teach and educate about the production and preparation of the drink..

“Los Gariteros, They deliver food to 20 collectors that exist in traditional coffee farm”

Each of the above statements are from characters that are part of the coffee area of the country, each has contributed its grain of “coffee” for traditional and hereditary construction of the million hectares of the product grown in this land and that is part of the history of Colombia .

Luz y Libaniel… Profession since a child by tradition.

 

For her ( Luz Estela Salazar ) Mr. Libaniel Cardona is his right hand, have been working for 22 years in all the duties that require the farm Villa Malicia, name given in honor of the mother of the husband of Mrs Luz.

His mother in law, a strong woman with a recognised attitude in her family for being malicious, an expert in the field of attracting the attention of those who loved her. After his death, and in honor of her life he was given the name to the property. Malicia as she was known by her children and acquaintances, and because it rhymed with his real name, Alicia.

After confessing the history of the name of the farm, Mrs Luz he shares that her husband died , Mr. Apolinato left her as inheritance this farm.

“He died in a period of four months, he left me this farm, an apartment, my two children ( Juan Manuel and Gloria Jimena ) and problems “,  she says, with a charming accent, revealing the origin of those who habit these lands, infected with paisa accent, strong but sonorous voice.

After having no knowledge of the administration and management of a coffee farm , she decided to renew all crops, and in the company of Don Libaniel , made ​​in a long process , change 76 % of the land , ” when Libaniel showed me the limits of the farm I was surprised how big it is, I always had in mind it was small, because I always visited the same part. When I reacted , I began to renew the plantation, I knew nothing about growing coffee, but I grew new crops.

The time came where Mrs Luz felt the need to sell the farm because their profits were minimal , and the only thing that harvest, were bananas. But she to be first- in the subject, forgot that 18 months takes, for good coffee to be produced.

Libaniel Cardona has 50 years as a collector . Chapolero is the word used to refer to people who select coffee with his hands, with patience, experience, tradition and obligation. He is the hero of Mrs Luz, without his help, Villa Malice, had ceased to exist. In 22 years he demonstrated his loyalty not only to the landowners; but also, to the connection he feels being a chapolero raised in coffee plantations.

Both characters are living proof of those living in these areas,  two beings united by a tradition, which by coincidence and destiny of life, came to them. Mrs Luz, a motherly woman, with some ” white hairs” in her hair , with dreamy expression lines, with cultures of brotherhood and kindness and full of roots that inherited during its existence. To see her remember with great emotion to his mother, with whom she walked and prayed these lands, is reason enough to recognise that we are truly  people of the coffee axis, born and raised in mountains.

Libaniel hands are those that identify a farm worker, full of dirt in each one of his fingernails, which carry  the history of Villa Malice, where he grew up, and continues giving him a reason to be. During his childhood the only thing he saw was coffee, and the teachings of those who turned him into one expert Chapolero, for him his work is worthy, must be well done, done with respect and experience.

From the grain, to the best flavour.

 

Juan Carlos Ortega is the administrator and exponent of a tour that takes place in one of the many farms in the coffee axis, which are part of the impressive Cultural Landscape.

El Placer is the name they chose to give to an extensive land, where one breathes coffee; located in the municipality of Santa Rosa, a place recognised by the ax and the Cross, and because has one of the only trees left from its origin, the Lembo, tree recognized as fine wood of high quality. They are currently conducting research to reproduce the seeds that remain of this important plant.

Juan Carlos tells foreign and local visitors each one of the processes carried with this seed, which is processed and brought to market with high quality standards, something that owners of large companies don’t see, and are only responsible for promoting and exporting this product; Further to this, the little support that has this traditional history, has marked our journey year after year.

In the coffee farms tasks are performed manually,  “machines”,  still not replace the hands of thousands of people whose choice of life and economic , (the first choice, the second by chance ), to continue giving a contribution to the processes in the field always have the mark of those who live in the land. Walk their acres and witness the best view in terms of scenery is an honor, the grandeur of them is a reason to be proud and it’s joy for the eyes.

A good coffee

 

“Coffee well done stands out in color, aroma and texture”.

Su proceso es llevado en 6 etapas antes de ser preparado y consumido. En primer lugar está la labor de recolección, la que de alguna manera divide por grupos la variedad que se ubican en los cafetales. Chapoleros, encargados de extraer de la naturaleza y encontrar allí la semilla de variedad de colores, formas, texturas y aromas que dan como resultado esta bebida.

His process is carried in 6 stages before being prepared and consumed . First is the work of harvesting, which somehow divides the variety of groups that are located in coffee plantations. Chapoleros , managers drawn from nature and find there the seeds of variety of colors , shapes, textures and aromas that result in this drink.

Despulpar es el paso siguiente, éste consiste en retirar la cereza del grano, labor que se realiza el mismo día de su recolección. (Mujeres, hombres y niños realizan cada uno de estos pasos, ninguno es procesado en maquinaria, sus herramientas son igual de tradicionales a su lugar de nacimiento).

Permanecer en reposo al grano es el fin de la fermentación, tercera etapa del café.

El lavado, secado y tostado son las tres últimas fases. Para el primero es necesario agua limpia, pues de ella depende que se retiren los mucilagos (sustancia vegetal viscosa) que quedan en el grano, al igual que sus azúcares; para secarlo es vital el sol, pues es su mayor aliado para disminuir los grados de humedad con los que viene el café, “el grano seco se empaca en sacos limpios hechos en fique facilitando su traslado; más adelante, se retira la cáscara que cubre el grano, llamada pergamino”.

Y por último sin restar importancia en el proceso está el tostado, acción que se realiza con una olla, indumentaria tradicional, y tiene como principal fin generar ese aroma, sabor y color característico de un procedimiento realizado en finca cafetera.

Los jóvenes y el campo

 

La finca “El Placer” hace procesos de trazabilidad social, con la idea de incluir a las personas jóvenes en los trabajos que demanda ésta tradicional práctica; pues actualmente esta población no se ve tentada por las labores del café, motivo por el que las camionetas encargadas de transportar a los trabajadores, se ven invadidas por años que superan los 50, caras llenas de responsabilidad, cansancio, oportunidad y deseo de vivir su vejez.

Allí, la familia que habita el espacio, realizan las labores de recolección de cafés especiales, específicamente la madre y las dos hijas, las menores estudian a pocas cuadras de su hogar, su labor es reconocida económicamente, además de recibir educación en procesos de producción y catación de la bebida.

Los menores de edad que trabajan en estos programas están bajo permiso de sus padres, razón por la cual ellos deben hacerse responsables y acompañarlos en el tiempo que disponen para ello. Los progenitores por su parte apoyan ésta participación, para fortalecer el gusto por lo que les ha brindado vivienda, educación y oportunidades.

Gariteros

Son llamados por este nombre los encargados de brindar el servicio de alimentación a todos los trabajadores del café, en las diferentes funciones que se necesitan. Cada uno de estos hombres (en su mayoría), tiene la responsabilidad de llevar puntual y ordenadamente las comidas de 20 trabajadores, por garitero.

Su labor es la fuente de energía para lograr otras actividades en el campo, específicamente en los trabajos que implica el café. Ellos, con su itinerario diario están pendientes de la buena alimentación de los que tienen tiempos específicos para llevar a cabo sus responsabilidades. El campo, las largas hora de trabajo y depender del estado de ánimo del clima, tienen en su referente a los Gariteros como su momento de descanso, verlos es sinónimo de que ellos traen una buena porción de comida, y la manera de darse coraje para continuar.

Al interior de una finca cafetera son muchas las labores que realizan quienes habitan estos sitios tradicionales, y contar la historia de cada uno de ellos, seria razón para dedicarles una publicación completa. Motivo por el que decido quitarme el sombrero y aplaudir sin receso lo que ustedes continúan sembrando, agarrados de sus creencias, oportunidades y valorizando internamente, el lugar que les entrega todo diariamente.

Compartir su magnifica, dificultosa y orgullosa labor es una manera de moverles su quietud. Si, a ustedes señores habitantes al igual que ellos, de estas tierras cafeteras, y de alguna manera hacer un llamado con libertad, para apoyarlos en su gran misión de mantener lo tradicional, la producción y el cuidado de la historia del Café, y continuar dignificando las profesiones del campo.

La mejor manera de reflexionar, es que usted exija siempre, tomarse una bebida a base de está semilla, de la mejor calidad. Educándose para conocer tres características sencillas; el color, sabor y aroma. Porque si cuenta con estos tres ingredientes, le aseguro que ese café proviene de una de las hectáreas de tierra con las que cuenta Colombia, el Eje Cafetero, y es dar nuestro grano de respeto a todos los que luchan sin descanso por dignificar sus labores.

 

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