The vast Huila region is generally regarded as the Mecca of coffee growing in Colombia. High altitude (1600m) and a subsequent cool climate is owed by neighbouring Andes mountains; and incredibly rich volcanic soil provided by nearby Nevado del Huila volcano (Colombia's second-highest peak). Textbook prime coffee-growing real-estate.
However, despite an abundance of natural beauty, not everywhere in Huila was regarded as ideal coffee country.
Indeed, one such place was within Paicol municipality, a name translated from Quecha as “door of the wind”. Despite its beautiful name, and an idyllic setting with a verdant forest guardian of Finca La Morelia’s biodiversity, it was at the time a land once believed too challenging for agriculture — up until recently it was filled with armed conflict and drug trafficking, and had naturally occurring higher aluminium concentration in the soil.
As desperate times called for desperate measures, in 1999 a certain Miller Walles — who’s only experience in agriculture up to that point was a lifetime of sugar plantations —took a chance and purchased a plot in Paicol.
He was no multi-generational coffee farmer. But his lack of prior coffee experience however proved a blessing in disguise. Not burdened by expectations, tradition, or habits, Miller set out seeking coffee specific knowledge from a local agronomist, fervently attending SENA courses in coffee production & management, and with support from Paicol’s local farmer’s association, to give him all he needed so as to harness his land towards producing truly remarkable speciality grade coffee.
To remove all doubt, the Walles family however have firmly established a new status quo in what constitutes ideal coffee growing terroir. Huila-locality alone does not guarantee great coffee -- determination, skill and knowledge, and a focus on quality is what has led this humble coffee farming family to continually produce outstanding speciality coffees here now for years.
Huila coffee farmers generally cultivate the distinctly fruity local Colombian coffee cultivar (also named "Colombia"), and the area is notable for an iconic coffee with subtle aromatics, but with a balanced brightness, and great body.