Huila, San Agustin

The coffee from San Agustin are grown in a very fertile region of Colombia at an altitude of 1,700 to 1,950 meters above sea level. This mountain range is situated at the south-western part of Colombia in the Huila department, and is blessed with excellent characteristics to produce fine coffee. The main and more representative municipality is Pitalito with a population of 109,375 inhabitants from which 64,082 live in urban areas and 45,293 in rural areas. 

The microclimatic conditions of this area are privileged because of the rich volcanic soil, its generous spring water supply and its constant precipitation. Coffee is planted under the shade in small parcels. Producers of San Agustin have preferred the traditional varieties of coffee plants, sacrificing the yields of higher production varieties, but are very proud of the cup characteristics and quality that their traditional cultivars provide. The coffee comes strictly from Arabica varieties, mainly caturra, typica, and castillo plants. In addition to the special care farmers take in processing their coffee, they are drying this parchment under direct sunlight only. This helps to maintain the coffee flavor and cup characteristics of a medium-high acidity, a medium body and a citric flavor. 

The San Agustin area is part of the Colombian Massif and the Andean Belt, declared “Reserve of the Biosphere” by UNESCO in 1972. This strategic location grants a privilege to environmental conditions that has led it to be regarded as one of the regions with the highest number of properties acquired for the protection of micro basins in Colombia. 

Its territory includes the Regional Natural Park, the Cave of Puracé - Guácharos, in which environmental land planning, community mapping, community networks of conservation, biodiversity monitoring groups and sustainable productive projects have been developed. Such experiences have been listed as a model of conservation in the country. 

Research studies made by biodiversity entities, demonstrate the existence in this area of important species of flora and fauna, many of them included in the lists of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), endangered and threatened with extinction such as: The Black Oak, the orchid, the Andean bear, among others. 

The region has been consolidated in the last years as the first and largest producer of coffee in the country, with over 20,000 hectares, recognized internationally for the quality and positioning of specialty coffee sold in major global markets. Additionally, its municipalities are considered major producers of fruits among which are: Passion Fruit, Blackberry, Lulo and Golupa. 

The majority of coffee farmers in this area own lands of 1 to 5 hectares. It is estimated that 47% of farmers in this area are between 41 to 50 years old and 89% of them have families, with a number of children ranging from 1 to 5. The typical level of education is up to the elementary level and only a small group have completed high school.  

Coffee in the area is not just an agricultural product but also a social, cultural, institutional and political product; it has been the basis for democratic stability and national integrity. Coffee cultivation represents the heart of the Colombian rural life, offering job opportunity, income and livelihood. 

The farmers of San Agustin are loyal to their beliefs and customs. The perfect union of the clay loam soil, the elevations exceeding 1,400 meters, and the excellent weather conditions make this region an excellent location to grow high quality coffee, and has led to coffee farming being the main activity in the economic sector of the valley. This also results in the producer being committed to the implementation of good agricultural practices and seeking alternative advice to optimize the quality of their coffee, from traditional to coffee growing tech. 


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