Finca Takesi Bolivia Typica
- February 2017
- Written by : Benjamin Morse
Assistant Director of Operations / Green Coffee Buyer
Finca Takesi is a coffee farm located in Yanacachi, high in the Sud Yungas mountain region of Bolivia. With close to forty hectares of fertile land surrounding a nearby tungsten and tin mine at their disposal, Mariana Iturralde and her father Carlos set out in 2001 to prove that phenomenal specialty coffee could be grown at extreme altitudes. Growing coffee at upwards of 2600 m.a.s.l, Finca Takesi is the world’s highest altitude coffee farm. Finca Takesi cultivates a number of coffee varieties, including Typica, Geisha, Catuaí, and Java in various separate plots throughout the farm.
Marianna and her farm manager, Juvenal Ari, have worked tirelessly over the past fourteen years to continue to build and maintain a specialty coffee farming model that focuses exclusively on micro-lot coffees and, in many ways, goes against the conventional wisdom of what constitutes a sustainable coffee farming operation. Finca Takesi currently employs eight full-time workers. This is very unusual and expensive for a coffee farm of their size. That said, with a annual harvest cycle that can span from March to December and, an increasingly scarce seasonal coffee workforce in Bolivia, Mariana has made the calculation that the expense of a full-time team is far outweighed by the long term planning advantages as well as the ability to better manage quality control. Based on the extraordinary results of this year’s harvest, it is safe say that Finca Takesi is truly mastering the art of growing coffee at extreme altitudes. This season, Juvenal and his team completely rebuilt the wet mill on Finca Takesi. This project included the installation of a large Penogas pulping and washing unit that was purchased in early 2015. Three new, tile-lined fermentation tanks were also part of the construction. These investments to improve their processing methods as well as the efforts made to adapt their growing techniques to the extreme elevations, cold temperatures, and limited daily sunlight have yielded some of the finest heirloom Typica variety coffees that we at Intelligentsia Coffee have ever tasted.
Typica is one of the two oldest known varieties of the coffea arabica species and its arrival in Bolivia recounts the history of coffee. C. Arabica originated in Ethiopia where today the species still grows wild in the tropical highland forests. The C. Arabica species was introduced in Yemen in the 13th or 14th century. Around 1700, coffee plants from Yemen—including Typica—were planted at the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. It was Typica trees from the Dutch botanical garden that were introduced throughout Central and South America and it was the first coffee planted in the New World. It is a noble variety, recognizable by its oval-shaped fruit and bronze colored leaves and coveted by tasters for its sweetness and complex flavor traits. Yet despite its tremendous quality potential, Typica is on the run—it has nearly disappeared from the Americas and is rarely planted anymore due to its low productivity and fragility. Bolivia is one of the few places in the world where this heirloom variety still represents a significant portion of the coffees being cultivated.
We at Intelligentsia Coffee are very excited to continue, for a fourth consecutive year, our exclusive Direct Trade relationship with Finca Takesi and are privileged to be the only roaster in North America to offer coffees from this extraordinary farm.