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The Coronel Pilco brothers rewrite the history of specialty coffee in Ecuador

Despite the implications of the Covid19 pandemic and the resultant necessary precautionary biosecurity measures, these Zamorano graduates are succeeding in the face of a challenging reality. They were able to make history in South America with their specialty coffee by trading it above UD$70 per pound on the international market. “We had to act intelligently, to make good decisions, and be smart about the 2020 harvest”, they shared.

Determined to make their parent´s farm productive, Ramiro Gerardo and Fabricio Enrique Coronel Pilco, Class 2013 and 2015, respectively, embraced risk and launched multiple agricultural projects. Although coffee was contemplated in their production plans, it hadn’t originally crossed their minds to target specialty coffee. Today, they have achieved grand success thanks to the specialty coffee variety they produce and offer on national and international markets.

As they had expected, upon graduating from Zamorano they began working at Hacienda La Florida, located behind the Jatumpamba volcano in Sozoranga, Loja province, Ecuador. The property has fertile land covering 120 hectares of a dry tropical primary forest that makes it unique worldwide.  Aware of the natural richness of the land, their first step was to analyze the soil to understand of its qualities and assign land parcels to the several agricultural projects they had in mind. Among these were aquaculture, livestock, poultry, swine, short cycle, fruit tree projects and a factory for hand crafted production of “panela” with sugar cane.

However, the activity that has brought them high praise, awards and recognition in their country as well as abroad has been their specialty coffee.  They harvest this specialty coffee on seven hectares with a unique biosphere which has a huge impact on the quality of the grain, not only on its density but talso on he complexity of its flavors. This combination of the coffee plantation under the forest´s shade operates within the framework of ecological agriculture, which mixes the good use of technology with sustainable production”, assure both agronomists.

Their work with coffee affords them three different varieties: Red and yellow Catucai, improved Typica (Heirloom) and Bourbon Sidra (Heriloom). Each variety behaves differently and has to be treated according to its specific needs in order to realize all its genetic potential. “To do this it is important to know the soil, water and biosphere that surrounds the coffee being grown since the majority of our crop is destined for specialty coffee markets. We are more focused on quality protocols than on massive production or volume.   We consider very different elements than do general coffee growers”, they expressed.

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International recognition

Focusing on quality has resulted in a production of excellence that has led to a price per pound of their coffee at USD$70.25 in international auction, which is a record price for South America. “It is the first time we participated in shows where they award quality at a national level. We took 1st, 5th, 6th, and 15th places with four lots among the 114 participants. All these lots were auctioned”, they commented in reference to their participation in the “Taza Dorada” contest organized by the National Association of Coffee Exporters of Ecuador.

Their specialty coffee’s quality has not only been awarded prizes in their country beginning in 2020, their 2019 Catucai variety harvest won 1st prize in the “barismo” and the elaboration categories at the Italian National Barismo Championship. Their coffee was used by BUGAN COFFEE LAB, a green coffee importer which purchased the product through MAKICUNA COFFEE, one of the clients of our Zamorano graduates in Europe.

“In a few years we hope to surprise the world, Loja Province and the whole of Ecuador with Sozoranga coffees. We know that the crop will be growing gradually until reaching maturity, and we plan to produce 250 pounds of coffee per hectare. We continue to grow planting more coffee and giving advise to small farmers and recognized specialty coffee growers in order to have better volume for our buyers. Our hope is that society gains a thirst for this work and the progress we are seeing”, Ramiro and Fabricio added.

These brothers claim that it was Zamorano that changed their way of seeing life and how to relate to other people, especially as regards their colleagues. “All the decisions that we have made have been positive thanks to the technical and scientific training we received at Zamorano. The foundations laid by the university regarding work and studies are maintained, and each day we grow more and more”, they concluded.

¡We thank our beloved parents for giving us the opportunity to be Zamoranos!

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