- Jaime Figueroa Cantillo
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Jaime Figueroa Cantillo is a coffee producer from the municipality of Garzón in southern Huila, Colombia. He owns multiple farms in the region, and the lot that Passenger has bought over the last few years for our Foundational Decaf offering is a blend of coffees produced on four farms that Jaime manages in the region.
During harvest, freshly picked coffee cherry from the various sites is collected and blended together, before being processed at one of the four farms, Finca Lucitania, where the central wet mill and drying facilities are located. When drying is completed, the parchment is transported to Medellín (approx. 400 miles by truck) for dry milling, from Medellín to Manizales (approx. 120 miles by truck) for decaffeination, and then back to Medellín to be containerized and ultimately shipped to the port. While decaffeinated coffees have often been underappreciated, or even disparaged, producing a decaffeinated lot of this quality is a logistically complicated and laborious endeavor!
The DESCAFCOL decaffeination plant in Manizales is unique due to the fact that it decaffeinates Colombian-grown coffees using a natural byproduct of sugarcane that is also produced locally. In contrast to other decaf coffees that are shipped to Canada or Germany to be processed, DESCAFCOL offers a fully Colombian approach. The process itself is sometimes referred to as “E.A. Decaf”, with E.A. referring to ethyl acetate: the byproduct of fermented sugarcane that serves as a solvent to bond with, and ultimately remove caffeine from the coffee. At DESCAFCOL, the coffee is steamed and then submerged in a solution of ethyl acetate and water which gradually removes the caffeine without significantly altering the cellular structure of the coffee seeds. The finished result is a decaffeinated coffee that, following roasting, offers deep sweetness and appealing flavor complexity.
Over the past few years that Passenger has been purchasing coffee from Don Jaime, he has made significant re-investments in his farms and processing facilities. He recently built state-of-the-art raised drying beds, under shade, with the goal of slowing down drying to create clean and stable coffees. Additionally, he has devoted considerable time and energy to create healthier compost for his farms by combining cow manure with a large percentage of the dried coffee skins that are generated by his depulping machines at Finca Lucitania.