CoE Ranking: 1
Farm: Buenavista (She inherited the farm from his father, who died 10 years ago).
Farmer: Astrid Medina Pereira
Birth Place and Date: La Cabaña farm, rural district of San Miguel, Gaitania (Planadas), January 9, 1977.
Parents: Aureliano Medina Arce (dead) and Rosalba Pereira (dead)
Siblings: (14) She is the 5th of them.
Husband’s name: Raúl Antonio Durán.
Children: Dayana Alejandra Durán Medina (17) and Raúl Alejandro Durán Medina (7).
Study level: Technician in coffee production and agricultural production by the National Learning Service (Sena).
Vereda (Rural District): San Miguel
Corregimiento (Municipal Subdivision): Gaitania
Total Area Grown with Coffee: 10 hectares
Altitude: 1800-2000 masl
% planted with resistant varieties (Colombia & Castillo): 40% Colombia/40% Castillo
% planted with susceptible varieties (Caturra): 20%
% of Young Technologically Advanced Coffee Plantations: 70-75%
Other farm crops: Banana for household consumption and beans for trading.
Post-harvest processing (“Beneficio”): Traditional
Score at Cup of Excellence 2015: 90.20
Astrid Medina, 38, is a woman who finds time for everything, including taking care of her family and producing exceptional coffee. In the 2015 Cup of Excellence competition, her coffee, of exotic sweet and fruity notes, bright acidity and creamy medium body, won first place with a score of 90.2 points.
Astrid gets up early, between 5:30 or 6:00 am, goes to the kitchen, wakes up her 7-year-old son to get ready for school, feeds him breakfast and takes him to school 10 minutes before 7:00 am in the small town of Gaitania, municipality of Planadas, in the Tolima Department, where they live.
Back home, she prepares a light breakfast for her husband, who works in a coffee-purchasing cooperative, and they both go on motorcycles to supervise some work at the Buenavista farm, which Astrid and the women of her family inherited from his father.
They supervise some activities at the farm, including the pickers when they arrive, and they visit the production lots. Then they go back to Gaitania. After lunch, Astrid’s son arrives and she helps him do homework and get things ready for the next day.
The farm, whose crops are almost completely renewed, is a shared legacy and her sister owns a fraction. “She is also a part of the farm. She is a single mother, has a boy and they also depend on us,” she explains.
The farm has an area of 15 hectares, of which 10 are grown with coffee. For five years, they have had the support of a farm manager, who is the husband of Astrid’s niece. That is, all the management remains within the family.
“We get along very well when it comes to work. During harvest season, in the evenings, my husband pays a lot of attention to reception of coffee from the pickers to monitor quality of the beans; only mature cherries are handpicked,” she states.
A sum of efforts toward quality
Each stage of production is very carefully looked after, and Astrid attributes the quality of her coffee to the sum of the efforts of many people. "If one of them was wrong, that would affect us all, but we speak the same language, we look for and achieve the same objective. It’s understanding between employees, pickers, the farm’s manager and owners,” she says, without disregarding that nature has been very generous to her farm.
“The climate and soils are very healthy, the region is very new, we never do burns, we let organic material do its work and fertilize the soil when it decomposes. The water for the post-harvest processing is also very pure,” she explains.
She also attributes the quality of her coffee to the particular blend of beans that the farm allows for in the mid-year harvest (November, December and part of January, with limited production). Because of its extension, lands vary between 1800 and almost 2000 meters in altitude. “We selected the best lots to make the blend with beans from different altitudes. We think that most of the coffee’s success is in the blend itself,” she explains. “Cup of Excellence allows us to keep dreaming and to experiment, because coffee, beyond doing the right thing, is like a mystery, since you may like it and others may not,” she says.
How will she use the premium she receives at the auction?
In regard to the auction on April 23, Astrid knows that the quality premium that the highest bidder will pay for her coffee will translate into welfare for her entire family, her employees, and productive improvements on the farm. "I will invest it in improving our house, providing better living conditions for our farm manager, our employees, expanding the “beneficiadero” (post-harvest processing facilities), because we think about growing more coffee in the future, having better technology, improving everything,” she says.
Thanks to the farm, her eldest daughter has already started studying environmental engineering in Bogota and she will be able to continue to pursue her career.
Coffee has allowed Astrid to keep her family together and help each other. “There is strength in numbers. There have been ups and downs. We have already been working nine years on this farm. There have been times of low prices in which one wants to give many things to the employees and one cannot, but we keep going on hope,” she ends.