Palo Grande - which translates to Big Tree - is the name Marta Lucía gave to her five-acre farm located in Caloto, Cauca. It is just one-and-a-half hours away from Cali, Colombia’s third most populous city, famously known for its talented salsa dancers as well as its lively night scene filled with rhythm and folklore.
Much quieter than many towns in the surrounding region, Caloto has nonetheless suffered from the constant fighting of armed guerrilla groups over the cocaine and illegal mining (mostly gold) businesses.
For Marta Lucia, this conflict has inflicted the highest cost. Her husband, a passionate coffee farmer who worked to expand the specialty coffee production throughout his community, was killed by one of these guerilla groups.
Yet out of this tragedy, Marta Lucia found her own passion in an effort to carry on her husband’s legacy of producing the best coffee possible. “When you have your own coffee plantation you are blessed and you are truly happy,” says Marta Lucía.
One of the keys to Marta Lucía’s success comes from a rigorous selection process that ensures only the ripest beans - commonly known as “uva” or grape - are harvested. Consistency in ripeness - she adds - is paramount in order to achieve a more fragrant, smooth and lively cup of coffee. Back at the White Tale Coffee lab we cupped it and have to agree that the effort was worth it.
After winning Cauca’s Cup of Excellence in 2015, Marta has simple plans to finish construction of her house and to continue producing this fine coffee. “My husband would have felt proud”, she says.
Indeed he would.