Everything about the Aya family, their finca “La Virginia” and its coffee crop is singular. “La Virginia” is located in Timaná, in the vereda of La Florida about 30 minutes away from Pitalito, Huila. It is located in a valley with its own microclimate, where the agroclimatological conditions make of its soils an excellent terroir to grow coffee. This property has a natural reserve with waterfalls and a forest full of various trees as bamboo, which makes the landscape something simply magical.
This finca belonged to Rafael’s father, a farmer who devoted his life to grow coffee and wanted to imbue his children with a love for coffee. Nowadays, Rafael along with his wife, Elvira and their two sons, Rafael (Rafita) and Emanuel, are the ones who take care of “La Virginia” and keep it as a true treasure. To get from the house to the beneficiadero or the coffee plantation, they must go through a swampy track of at least 25 minutes. Pacho, a mule of the finca, is valued as a member of the family and is the one that helps to load coffee, food for the pickers and those who are physically unable to withstand this long journey.
Over the last 13 years, Rafael and Elvira have dedicated themselves entirely to coffee cultivation. However, only since 2014, they began working with specialty coffees, since they understood that this is the way to set their business apart from the competition. From then on, Rafael has become passionate about the subject and has taken several courses in the National Learning Service (SENA) in Pitalito, learning different techniques, and how to innovate and better manage coffee resources and practices. Rafael has improved coffee processes throughout experience and knowledge, claiming that his success has its core in the fermentation process. It is at this stage, when he defines the profile and the notes of his coffee in the final cup. For this purpose, Rafael takes up to 120 hours tasting fermented water to determine when the coffee is ready to be washed and dried in raised beds.
His coffee has managed to win several barismo, brewing, and roasting championships around the world, which has granted him an international recognition. Nevertheless, Rafael is convinced that success can only be achieved with effort, that’s why his children are acquiring knowledge to apply what they have learned at “La Virginia”. He deeply believes that coffee can lead them to a better future.