Finca Santuario, Popayan, Cauca, Colombia
Camilo Merizalde established Finca Santuario in the late 1990s, with the aim of reviving traditional coffee growing practices and replanting higher quality (lower yielding) varieties. At the time, many Colombian coffee growers had moved away from traditional varieties, in favor of fewer and more productive hybrids.
(Camilo Merizalde, at Finca Santuario, Cauca, Colombia)
For two years, Camilo worked with an agronomist to plan the farm; determining the optimal layout, seed stock, and soil inputs. In addition to re-establishing Typica and Bourbon varieties, he also planted Geisha. Camilo’s focus on sustainability and biodiversity, at Finca Santuario, has helped to raise awareness about climate change and the impact of deforestation in the coffee sector.
Inspired by the success of Finca Santuario, in Colombia, in 2012 Camilo went International – establishing farms and wet mills in Brazil and Costa Rica. The philosophy behind the project expanding to other producing countries was simple - by using the framework from Santuario in Colombia, Camilo and his team could develop the infrastructure for farmers to process coffee in a range of conventional and experimental ways in other coffee-growing countries. By doing so, Santuario would equip and empower coffee producers to drive up the quality of their lots, while also keeping in mind financial viability and current market trends.
Tres Milagros, Tarrazú, West Valley, Costa Rica
In 2010, Nelsyn Hernandez, a Honduran agronomic engineer and banana farmer by trade, moved to Costa Rica to revive a farm that had been abandoned for years. The farm was affectionately named Tres Milagros (Three Miracles) by Nelsyn because it would need nothing short of a miracle to save it. Using his experience in agronomy, Nelsyn started to improve the farm's quality and production, using strategic fertilization, soil management techniques, and replacing old coffee trees with newer, more productive varieties.
In 2013, Nelsyn met Camilo Merizalde. Their complementing skillsets were the perfect match - with Nelsyn's agronomic background and Camilo's experience in post-harvest management, Tres Milagros became part of the Santuario Project, and has gone from strength to strength. Together, they’ve implemented several experimental processing techniques with fantastic results.
(Anaerobic fermentation barrels, Tres Milagros, Costa Rica)
Santuario Sul, Carmo de Minas, Minas Gerais, Brazil
The Brazilian arm of the Santuario Project is lead one of the pioneering coffee producing families in Carmo de Minas. Established in 1961, by Isidro, the Pereira family have been growing coffee on the mountains around Carmo de Minas ever since.
Luiz Paulo (Isidro's grandson) and Camilo established the experimental farm, Fazenda Santuario Sul, in 2015 with the intention of bringing a global perspective to one of the more traditional growing regions in Brazil. The farm is planted with varieties that aren't typically found in Brazil but offer excellent cup quality in their native lands: Sudan Rume, SL28, Yirgacheffe, Laurina, Geisha and many others.
In Luiz Paulo's words: "The goal is to always be at the forefront of the market and offer more and more quality!" It certainly seems like he's doing just that. Even in a relatively short time, Fazenda Santuario Sul has become a perennial finalist in the Brazilian Cup of Excellence competition.
(Santuario Sul, Carmo de Minas, Minas Gerais, Brazil)
After five years of working Internationally, in 2017, ECOM (the parent company of Atlantic Specialty Coffee, who we work with in the United States, and Condesa, who we work with in Australia) became a partner in Santuario, and it became the Santuario Project. Today, the Santuario Project operates in four countries: Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico.
Ixhuatlán Processing Centre, Ixhuatlán, Veracruz, Mexico
The latest Santuario Project operation is the Ixhuatlán Processing Centre. It's the hub of the Santuario Project in Mexico, working with small-holder farmers from the surrounding area and focuses on producing very high-quality specialty lots.
(Ixhuatlán Processing Centre, Ixhuatlán, Vera Cruz, Mexico)