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Journey through our History
A tale of passion, struggle, risk, leaps of faith & success
We have honoured the knowledge passed down to us from our parents and grandparents and combined it with cutting edge technology and innovation to grow, process and export our beans to all corners of the world.
The first recorded account of Domingo Tello, my maternal great-great grandfather. He was a farmer who owned much of the land around the village of Caloto, Huila including the hamlets of San Isidro and Peña Negra.
Salomon Perdomo & Maria Collazos of Caloto, (parents of my paternal grandfather Pedro Jose Perdomo Collazos) marry. They purchase La Palma, our paternal farm, from Don Arcadio Barrera.
Celestino Tello (son of Domingo Tello) and father of my grandmother Franscica was born in Caloto, Huila. He used to pulp his coffee using a rock resembling a mortar and pestle and wash the beans in the stream.
Salomon & Maria build the house at La Palma using ‘Bareque’ - a combination of bamboo, cow dung and earth. Many coats of paint later, we still continue to use the house to this day.
My maternal great grandparents Celestino Tello and Leonilde Leon (daughter of Manuel Santiago Leon) get married.
Pedro Jose Perdomo & Francisca Tello (my maternal grandparents) marry and build the farm at San Isidro, Huila. They introduce the varietal of Caturra.
My grandfather builds the first wet mill in the region. It includes a pulper. Prior to the concrete tank the coffee was washed in a wooden receiver.
The Perdomo Tello family purchase La Palma from Salomon Collazos for $80,000 Colombian Pesos, the equivalent of USD $17 today. Their children and grandchildren live in the farm house and continue to produce coffee on the land.
My grandfather Pedro Jose Perdomo and my uncle Manuel Tello are two leaders in the community who championed the construction of the road that joined the Town of Paicol, Huila to Caloto.
My father Alberto Fernandez, a coffee farmer from the community, marries my mother Flor Alba Perdomo and becomes an integral part of the family and La Palma.
My Great Grandmother Leonilde and Grandmother Francisca overseeing the construction of the Wet Mill at La Palma
A view of La Palma with the wet mill complete
Roya (Rust) and Broca begin to infest the coffee plantation. The infestation destroys the plantation over the next few years.
Roya, Broca and the increasing cost of production outweighs any financial benefits. My family stops producing coffee and starts focusing on growing Sugar Cane to produce and sell panela.
The year everything changed. After moving to Australia to work and send money back home, I found myself paying $3.50 for a cup of coffee at a local Sydney coffee shop. That was more than 3x what a pound of green beans cost in Colombia at the time. My cousin Edisson and I decide it is time to start growing coffee again!
My siblings, two cousins and I officially purchase La Palma from our grandfather Pedro Jose. We start germinating Castillo coffee seeds planting each seed by hand. Castillo is a Colombian varietal resistant to roya (rust).
My family plants 100,000 Castillo coffee trees by hand in the plantation at La Palma
Our Castillo babies are growing. We build a new wet mill and a covered patio with raised tables and purchase
I meet my dear friends, mentors and very first Direct Trade partners Tim & David Trebilcock who introduce me to the world of coffee from the roaster and consumer perspective.
- First Harvest
- First exportation - 44 bags of coffee (with the help of Sweet Latitude introduced to us by La Palma y El Tucan).
- First origin visit with direct trade partners from Canada marking the first time any foreigners had visited the region.
- First time we used a refractometer (sugar content measurement tool) which started our obsession with the science behind coffee production.
Bad news - El Niño hits the plantation hard! Water deficits dry out many of our trees (especially the younger ones) and reduce production. We counteract by installing an irrigation system with high-pressure sprinklers.
Good news - after jumping through many hoops we become the first certified exporters of our region and despite the drought we export 80 bags of coffee to our Direct Trade partners by ourselves!
We take action and plant 2,000 shade trees into the plantation. This helps recharge ground water supplies, prevent (future) flooding and erosion and provides new habitats for birds.
Our Direct Trade business model is working. Coffee orders from new roasters means that we need a place to store coffee outside of the plantation. My grandfather’s living room is our first warehouse.
A proud and exciting moment to witness our first full container be loaded onto the vessel in the port of Buenaventura!
We open our very own warehouse
I am honoured to be invited by my Middle Eastern Direct Trade partners to the Coffee and Chocolate Expo in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where I give a presentation about the challenges facing coffee farmers.
The roads of our region had become very unsafe and in a state of complete disrepair. With the help of our partners we privately fix 36 KM of road!
Pandemic reaches the Plantation! We implement protocols to ensure safety and cleanliness.
Meanwhile we take the opportunity to invest in new infrastructure: new raised tables, 2 mechanical dryers, aerobic and anaerobic fermentation tanks, float tanks for the cherries, a new water treatment system, a mucilage composting centre, a house for seasonal workers and much more.
A year focussed on innovation and processing. Chapolo, our donkey, joins the team
Grateful to have made it to the other side of the pandemic. We have grown so much over the past two years through hard work, a strong vision, a great team and wonderful partners.
2023 - A deeper pride. A bigger meaning
Chalo’s Coffee has Direct Trade Partnerships on 5 continents!
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