Our Direct Trade partners farm and process exceptional coffee throughout Latin America.

Ecuador | Juan Peña, Hacienda La Papaya


Juan Peña, a former long-stem rose farmer, began growing coffee in 2009 at Hacienda La Papaya, outside Saraguro near the small town of La Papaya in Loja, Ecuador. He currently has 14 hectares in production across 25 total hectares, all between 1800-2100 masl.

The house on the farm is around 250 years old. The estate has been in the hands of Juan’s family for five generations. Ecuador coffee production is somewhat unique in that there is a basic wage floor for laborers and they are paid in US dollars. La Papaya employs 65 people at the height of harvest.

Additionally, the standard in Ecuador is for each producer to mill and dry their own coffee. There are almost no communal wet mills in the country.

CafExporto was founded five years ago by Philip Smith and Juan Peña, at first to serve as the exporting arm of La Papaya. It has now expanded to offering technical and educational support, processing expertise, and export services for producer partners in Loja, Zamora, and other regions throughout the country.

One of the most remarkable characteristics of HLP is that all of the coffee is irrigated. This is thanks to both the perennial waterfall, Cascada San Pablo, that sits above the estate and the ingenuity of the fertilization system Juan employs. Fertilizers are mixed in controlled amounts with water. Most established lots are fertilized 4 days a week and 1 day with just water.

The first coffee planted was Typica Mejorado in 2009. The lots or "blocks" are numbered in chronological order (currently 16). B7 refers to the seventh lot planted. Whereas the rest of the lots are single varietals, B7 is a mix of Typica, Pacas, Caturra, Catuai, and San Salvador.

Juan chooses to replace trees when necessary instead of stumping. Because of the irrigation system, the length of time for new trees to reach production is the same as that of stumped trees. He has an extensive nursery on site which serves to both regenerate existing blocks and nurture new varietals for future lots.

Processing begins with 15-24 hours of fermentation in clean water. Then to one of the five different drying rooms, each with different methods. For example, there is one for experimental processes, one for naturals, and one for full scale airflow. There is a special room for Reserve lots, too—nanolots for custom experiments where the cherries are specifically selected by only two expert pickers.

Four soil sensors are spaced throughout the farm. At a depth of 15cm, they provide real time analysis of mineral inputs and humidity. This information can then be used to calculate the input percentages for the various compounds that make up the fertilization mixture. The goal is to ultimately develop a software system capable of making daily automatic adjustments to the fertilizer composition and water quantities based on environmental conditions.

Monthly monitoring for diseases and fungus is catalogued with photos, video, and mapping. The process takes 2-3 days to observe every tree.

As of 2022 they started planting unique varieties including Laurina, Sudan Rume, Pink Bourbon, Java, and Colombian Gesha. Initial production of these coffees will start in 2025. We're excited to see what the future holds!

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Past offerings from Hacienda La Papaya:


B7 Anaerobic
Typica Anaerobic
Gesha Washed

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