Malacara translates as ‘bad face’ which is an incongruous name for such a wonderful farm. Finca Malacara was established by Rafael Alvarez Lalinde. Coffee has been grown on this farm since the 1800s and it has been owned and managed by the Alvarez family since 1889. As the farm has been passed down through three generations it has been separated into three farms, Malacara A, B and C. José Guillermo Alvarez Prunera and Maria Alvarez De Murray have had a difficult time dealing with a severe attack of Coffee Rust Disease (a fungus which attacks the foliage) which meant that an equally severe pruning regime was implemented, and they lost a good portion of their crop for a few years. In some cases, José Guillermo and Maria have re-introduced a traditional pruning and training technique on the trees called Agobio Parras. Using this method, the main tree stem is bent past 45 degrees (to nearly horizontal) and fixed into the soil with an old branch shaped like a hook. From the upper side of the bent stem, new branches grow and one to several of these are selected for the future growth. The tree will now have more than three main stems from which the future new crops will develop. After some years of production, but before the yield starts to decline substantially, the stems are stumped, and new off-shoots establish themselves. From these new off-shoots, new stems will once again be selected, and the method will be applied again. Over the last couple of years José Guillermo and María de los Angeles have invested in a program of improvement based on data analysis from more use of technology. Each part of the farm is now mapped and separated by altitude, varietals, soil analysis including ph and macro-nutrients, and collective leaf canopy variation. All the information helps establish a nutrition plan for each tree and plot, reveal any areas of concern, and helps identify plants that need more help. This year José Guillermo and María de los Angeles are researching soil health and looking into enhancing the soil at Malacara A using organic fertilizers. There has been a lot of research into the benefits of organic (vs made) fertilizers and the benefits they bring the soil. Please visit malacara.net
for more information about the farm.