This coffee was grown and processed by Neftali Castro on his family’s farm, El Diamante, located near the town and municipality of Cajamarca, in the state of Tolima, Colombia.
At 30 hectares in size, El Diamante (which translates to “the diamond” in Spanish) is a large estate for the area, where most farms average just 3 hectares. The land is owned by Neftali’s father, who inherited the farm from his own father in the 1990s. When the farm was first established, the family planted plantain, green beans, potatoes and a local carrot called arrachacha. They also kept a small plot of Typica trees, but coffee was neither a priority nor an important source of income.
This changed in 2008, when Neftali decided to return to his family farm and take over its management, after many years working as a mechanic in Tolima’s capital, Ibagué. From the outset, his focus was on coffee production. During an inspiring visit to the renowned coffee producing region of Pitalito, Huila, he had recognised the potential of coffee and was determined to pursue the social benefits of the crop for himself and his family.
Neftali expanded the land dedicated to coffee by planting many hectares of the Caturra variety. He established careful farming practices and built a small beneficio (wet mill) and drying sheds to process his crop. His efforts were rewarded when he placed 29th in 2009’s COE auction, then again in 2011 when he achieved an incredible 3rd place in the competition.
This recognition also brought attention from local FNC technicians, who advised Neftali to replace his Caturra trees with the higher yielding Castillo variety. Unfortunately, the variety did not perform well in such a cool climate, and what followed were a couple of difficult years for the farm.
Always enterprising, Neftali made the hard decision to entirely replace the Castillo trees with the Tabi variety, a newer hybrid that is resistant to rust and performs well at higher elevations. This crop has been far more successful, and Neftali is once again producing exceptional quality and good yields. Alongside some 9,000 Tabi trees, Neftali has recently planted Pink Bourbon, Gesha, and Chiroso varieties, with the expectation that these lots will fetch higher premiums for their outstanding cup profile. Today, eight hectares of El Diamante are under coffee production.
Neftali is considered a leader and role model within his local community and a champion for coffee production. His resourcefulness, innovation and adaptability have helped him to build El Diamante’s reputation for excellence and inspired many of his neighbours to focus on specialty production. As Neftali shares, “Coffee is my passion. I don’t want to do anything else.”