Bolivian coffee harvest runs from April (below 1,000 masl) to October (up to 2,000 masl). In 2006 the country exported 85,000 bags of green coffee. The coffee rust hit the region very hard after that and the production dropped to 20,000 in 2017. The increase of the coca production also led to a decrease of the coffee production. Indeed, as soon as the coca production became legal in some areas of Bolivia, many farmers switched coffee production to coca production which is more profitable (5 harvests a year with big profit).
Carrasco region is considered as the door of the Amazon. The Carrasco reserve is located in La Paz region (western Bolivia). Coffee from this region is grown using organic methods.
Agricafe is a business owned by the Rodriguez family and has been started in 1986. By then, the family used to rent wet mills in Caranavi region, buying cherries from 2,000 producers and in 2001 they built their actual wet mill, called Buena Vista, in Caranavi. They, very quickly, built a dry mill in la Paz and then started exporting operations. In 2013, a few years after the national drop of production, they decided to buy land and start farming as well. They now have 8 farms in Caranavi region (60 ha) and 5 farms in Samaipata region (60 ha). Up to 300 people are working for the company at the peak season. They hire agronomists from different countries as consultants every year.
Hernan Quispe is an individual producer who is part of the program 'Sol de la Mañana' in which 50 producers are part of the program and are trained by the Agricafe team to produce more and better coffee with their existing farms. A school farm has been built to show all agronomy good practices to producers. Neighbours who are not part of the program started copying the techniques and are also improving their farms. As a result of that, many producers’ kids have studied agronomy / biology / soil dynamic, etc. and are planning to come back and manage the farm with their parents. All those producers deliver cherries (in 75% of the cases) or parchment (when producers’ farms are located to farm and can’t deliver cherries the same day they harvest them) to Buena Vista Mill.
Hernan is growing coffee under shade using native trees like banana, citrus and wood essence trees. He is farming these crops on 3 hectares at 1,600 masl. He decided to work with four varieties: Caturra, Yellow and red Catuai and Typica.
He does selective picking in the farm, repeatedly until all ripe cherries are harvested. The same day of the harvest, at night he processes the cherries using a hand-pulper. The wet parchment is then fermented with no additional water (dry fermentation) in tanks and for 15h before being dried on raised beds for 15 days with constant hand-shifting, keeping airflow constant on all sides of the seed.
Hernan then delivers and sells the coffee to Buena Vista Mill where quality control is taking place (moisture, green analysis, cupping) when the lot reaches 12% MC, all coffee is bagged with Ecotact and Jute/plastic bags and sent to the dry mill in La Paz with sample bags on the side. The lot sits there in parchment until it’s prepared for export.