THE FIRST LEG - INTERVIEW WITH JUAN DIEGO DE LA CERDA
This year’s visit to Finca El Soccorro was going to be slightly different from past years. A typical visit includes spending time at the farm and wet mill as well as cupping and selecting lots. This time I planned to pick the brain of Juan Diego de la Cerda. His farm has produced many award-winning coffees and Barefoot customer favorites Palo Blanco and Amarillo, so I wanted to explore his business mind for insights into his success.
ME - While being on the board of directors for Anacafe, what were some of your responsibilities?
D - We spent a lot of time with the producers, either in a group or individually, and strategized ways through which they could improve their coffee production.
ME - You’ve shown me how the labs have analyzed your green coffee samples and given you spider graphs, as well as cupping scores. What else is involved if the producer wants to know everything?
D - There are many different services that Anacafe, as a whole, provides for coffee professionals/producers/enthusiasts: barista training, roasting, brewing and other educational classes. The producers can also get their coffee roasted if they do not possess the facilities with which to do so.
ME - What was your major in college?
D - I studied agricultural science with an emphasis on tropical regions.
ME - Your favorite thing to do?
D - Spending time outdoors. Not only managing the farms, but enjoying nature with my family and young boys.
ME - I believe that…I’ve seen all the photos you post. Not to mention, you and your dad know your farms like the back of your hands. Every nook and cranny. Such familiarity explains why your coffees are winning COE (Cup of Excellence) year after year. Favorite part of your job?
D - Public relations and the marketing side of the business.
ME - Any advice to those producers who have placed in Cup of Excellence and want to repeat, and/or build on their success.
D - If your coffee is auctioned off, then put the money back into the farm. Improve the systems you have in place to increase the quality of the coffee…each year.
JUAN DIEGO DE LA CERDA
Once we finished our Q&A session, we ate lunch and talked about our families. While we have forged a strong connection through the business of quality coffee, I have really enjoyed my time over the years with the Cerdas. They are just plain “good folk”…. the kind of down to earth individuals with whom you enjoy spending the day.
After lunch we headed out to see some of the yellow bourbon/caturra lots that we have been salivating over since last year’s Aguacate Amarillo selection. Due to the time of year of my visit there were less cherries on the trees, as most of it had been harvested weeks before, but we still got some good shots.
Diego decided to combine all the yellow bourbon and caturra into one offering for us and these sweet, juicy coffees are now available.
I had the opportunity to go to Anacafe the next day and cup this, as well as the other lots. The Amarillo sung on the table. Delightfully, delicate and bright with gobs of tropical fruit and hints of pineapple, pilloncillo and creme fraiche. Crisp acidity and an uber clean finish.
I also really enjoyed the Pacamara we cupped. Being the first harvest of this unique and prized varietal, I was surprised at the depth of flavor and round body that it exhibited, especially from a sample roast. I expect big things in the next couple year’s from El Socorro’s Pacamara lots.
-David Vicente Johnson