El Puente is named for the footbridge over the river near the new El Puente processing facility. This facility in the Palestina region of southern Huila processes coffee from Aromas del Sur farms (Monteblanco, La Loma, El Progreso). Rodrigo Sanchez and his family produce coffee on their farms and deliver it to El Puente, which is designed to handle larger volumes of coffee than the mills on individual farms can process.
Coffee from El Puente is Natural processed; the cherries are placed in a large parabolic dryer covered with shade fabric to regulate the temperature.
El Puente is a pilot project that is supported by community investment in sustainable development of rural areas.
The Colombian Department of Huila is located in the southern portion of the country where the Central and Eastern ranges of the Andes mountains converge. Huila’s capital city of Neiva is dry, flat, and desert-like, markedly different from the coffee regions further south.
Centered around the city of Pitalito, Huila’s coffee farms are predominately smallholder owned and over the past ten years have made consorted efforts to produce specialty coffee that reveals the full character of the region’s terroir. Selective manual harvesting, attentive processing, and careful post-harvest sorting all contribute to increasing recognition of the region.
Huila’s Departmental coffee committee, the local connection to the national Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, has invested notable resources into training producers in everything from fertilization to roasting. This, combined with producer enthusiasm, has created a regional culture of quality-focused production.
Huila holds important historic significance dating back to pre-Columbian cultures. The archeological site at San Agustin includes a large number of stone carvings, figures, and artifacts that offer a rare glimpse into the land’s past prior to colonialism.