Producer: Victor Calderon
Farm name: Palencia
Variety: Pache, Caturra, Red Bourbon
This award winning Palencia farm was founded in 1930 as a cattle ranch and in 1966 was planted with coffee. In 1930 the Franco family bought small farms and formed El Tambor. In 2001, the Calderon family purchased El Tambor, trading it for a house closer to the coast where they had previously farmed. The climate at El Tambor has cold weather overnight from November to March, slowing maturation in the cherries to produce a characteristic sugary sweetness. El Tambor has a distinguished record in the Cup of Excellence, winning awards in 2007, 2015, 2017, and 2018.
Victor Calderon is congenial and bright, a tall man with a contagious positivity and smile. Of his own farm, he says, “To control the coffee quality, we start from the seed, which is carefully chosen every year by Pablo Montezuma. From 50,000 seeds planted in the soil, 40,000 are chosen to be planted into bags, filled with soil and one year aged coffee pulp. 18,000 to 25,000 are planted, the rest is sold. During flowering season, we identify areas that will have the best trees to produce coffee during harvest. Mr. Juan and Herlindo Cante are in charge to pick the best cherries that later are process at the wet mill. Before starting to mill, our worker Juan Maquin checks that cherries do not have any yellow part. Then, Mr. Aquilino Pérez oversees fermentation tanks, he also takes care of coffee during that process and takes it to sun dry on patios. On El Tambor we also have been producing excellent honey. Also, avocado trees and a natural forest are part of the protected areas. The total area of forest and natural forest area is one quarter of the land. We give our workers a 10% of our property to plant black beans and corn, representing 80% of their annual food supply. We also support our workers with other special projects, such as production of fish, giving them one cow per family, support in construction of their houses, etc.”
The Calderon family uses biodynamic agricultural practices, which Victor just calls “common sense”. They use only organic practices, without chemicals, and spread clay to combat rust. The finca is on a migration route for butterflies, which flutter all over the area, the rich canopy of trees on the farm forming a haven for them.