Finca El Tesoro’s ~4,500 Tabi trees are planted around 1,700 m.a.s.l. and spread spaciously across 3.5 hectares, not far from Huila’s southern border. With two kids in the military, his youngest daughter studying psychology in Pitalito and his eldest son cultivating pitaya, Victor Barrera tends to the farm with his wife and as many as 8 to 15 pickers depending on the harvest.
Developed by Cenicafé, the FNC’s research and development center, Tabi is a leaf rust resistant variety that combines Timor hybrid, Typica and Bourbon. According to Victor, the coffee pickers in his municipality prefer harvesting Tabi over other varieties, as the ample space between the branches and different cherry nodes make their job more comfortable. That said, Mr. Barrera still pays a lot of attention to the ripeness of the fruit they pick, offering them COP 480 per kg on average. He claims that pickers can bring in anywhere from 160 to 180 kg of ripe cherry per day. In an effort to increase the quality and consistency of his collection, Victor is working on putting together a group of local, trained pickers that he can count on during his fly crop (June-July) and main harvest (October-December).
After picking the cherries, Victor leaves them in tulas until the next day—to let the cherries further ripen —and then he sorts the cherries by density, floating them in water. Later, he de-pulps them and selects the beans with a zaranda or sieve, before leaving them in fermentation for 36 hours.
After germinating seeds from a select few of his own trees that produce a unique pale red cherry, Victor planted 300 “pink” Tabi trees. He also recently completed building a “casa elba” with a system of retractable raised beds driven by wheels on tracks. This coffee was dried on traditional raised beds for 10 to 15 days. if you visit him, he’ll likely ask you to leave a message in the El Tesoro guest book.