OAXACA, INTO THE FOG.
On the road again, with a lot more cautions; our trip was nonstop to keep minimum contact, this is the new post-Covid’19 work policy.
We are now in the state of Oaxaca, atop the mountain range of the Southern Sierra Madre. We reach (at last!) Pluma Hidalgo, one of the holy grails of Mexican coffee. The place feels magical, in every possible way; exuberant vegetation, with dangerous -but oh so beautiful- roads full of curves, the sounds of nature echoing in every corner. The name “Pluma” means feather and is due to the shape and well “fluffiness” of the mist that lives on these mountains.
The sunrise meets us right in front of the Ave Maria church, we rush to meet Pancho Villarreal, our host, and guide. It’s already 7 am and we’re off to MantoNiebla*.
Even though Pluma Hidalgo is a well-known coffee sourcing region the farm itself is young, and even though it’s only their second crop ever last year they started off with a bang, their honey processed coffee was part of the 2020 Adela Coffee Selection.
“The farm is taking shape”; says Pancho, but this expression falls a bit short of all the work involved from the MantoNiebla team; the past few years of investment they built roads, planned and carved their way into the mountain, they germinated their own plants, planted their trees into strategic lines, separating varieties and making sure that the trees receive proper shade, and it’s the fruit of their 2017 babies that we’re now about to cut.
During this trip, we had the good fortune to witness part of the picking and processing. Selective picking is about taking ONLY the deep red ripe coffee cherries, then a few days later returning to pick the remaining fruits as they ripen.
It’s a laborious and expensive maneuver, but it pays off quite nicely in the final coffee quality and costs, as fewer harvested cherries need to be discarded, guarantees a higher yield of production, and of course, the process is more friendly for the coffee trees.
We cannot thank enough to the Villarreal family for hosting this amazing experience.
*meaning: Fog Cover
Photo & text by @fatima_quest