Altitude: 1,585–1700m above sea level
Variety: 60% Bourbon variety and 40% Caturra variety
Processing:Fully washed and dried on raised beds.
Owner:Ana Lucia Zelaya and her husband Don Rony Asensio
Awards: 2010 and 2012 Cup of Excellence
Heavy bodied with apricot acidity, honey sweetness and notes of dark chocolate, blackcurrant and toffee.
La Soledad is owned by Ana Lucia and her husband Don Rony Asensio. The two make a cracking coffee pair – Ana Lucia comes from a family that has produced coffee over four generations and is the sister of Ricardo Zelaya, who owns Santa Clara, just down the road from La Soledad. Rony is a very talented, passionate and meticulous farmer who works incredibly hard to produce great coffee.
La Soledad sits at an altitude of 1585–1700m above sea level on the slopes of Volcan de Agua in Antigua. Currently, the 11 hectares of coffee at La Soledad grow under a canopy of Grevillea shade trees which are pruned every year to ensure the trees get the correct amount of sunshine and protection to maximise yields and quality.
When Rony describes his approach to farming, he explains, “Everything we do is done with love.” And you can see it. His attention to detail, understanding of agriculture, and high production standards are very inspiring and hard to fault. La Soledad is exceptionally well organised, and all of the facilities were impeccably clean. Lucia and Rony’s relationship with their workers is also beautiful to see; their management style is very inclusive, and the loyalty of the team was evident.
As they stretch up the mountainside, La Soledad’s Caturra and Bourbon coffee trees grow under a canopy of Grevillea shade trees which are pruned every year to ensure the trees get the correct amount of sunshine and protection to maximise yields and quality. The region benefits from rich volcanic soil and a special microclimate that an exceptional characteristic to the coffee.
During the harvest Rony and Lucia employ 25 pickers. Due to the varying altitudes on the farm, the cherries ripen at very different times, so to ensure that only the very ripest cherries are selected, the pickers do about 8 passes throughout the harvest, under the watchful eye of Julio, La Soledad’s full-time manager, who lives at La Soledad and has worked with Rony and Lucia for 8 years.
After harvest, the coffee is processed at the Zelaya’s beneficio (mill) Bella Vista in the traditional washed manner. The cherries are mechanically pulped before they’re fermented for 24 hours to remove the mucilage, and are then dried on patios in the sun.
The 2010 and 2012 harvests placed at the Cup of Excellence.