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BROADEN YOUR HORIZONS

el Recreo
estate

You can’t understand Landed Coffee Roasters without knowing a bit about our estate. In many ways, Landed was born out of Hacienda el Recreo.

Venezuelan Specialty Coffee

Cupping HR Coffee

The Story

The estate is nestled in the hills of the western part of Carabobo, Venezuela. The history of the Hacienda dates back to 1843, when coffee was first grown there. The site had however been abandoned for a long time until Ricardo and Haydee initiated a coffee seedling recovery project in 2016.

HR the story

After restoring the Estate House and the old operational areas used for processing coffee, the next thing was to revitalise the land and select the varieties of coffee to be grown, while also selecting land and seeds for specialty cacao. For this, Ricardo and Haydee traveled the country and to Central America in search of the best techniques and genetics.

Following the advice of local and international experts, they decided to bet on regional coffee varieties such as INIA01, Colombia 27 and Monte Claro, as well as to introduce Venezuelan cacao varieties such as Canoabo, Ocumare and Porcelana, among others, all of which are grown from certified seeds to ensure genetic purity.

The result is that Hacienda el Recreo has become one of the first Specialty Coffee estates in Venezuela and is one of the few farms in the world with certified Creole and ancestral genetics for Cacao. They are also the ones that have given the most attention to post-harvest management of both coffee and cacao in the country.

HR Natural Coffees

Preferred Processing Methods

After having completed their Q-processor certification in Honduras the team were particularly nervous about producing natural and honey processed coffee, since during their course it became apparent just how easy it is to ruin the coffee beans during the drying phase. 

Luckily, the varying altitudes between the coffee lots (1000-1600 masl) and the processing station (700 masl) on Hacienda el Recreo makes it ideal for naturals, as the microclimates throughout the estate cause substantial differences in temperature, humidity and rainfall between areas.

The team is constantly learning from each harvest, with their first ever in 2018 allowing them to explore the basic profiles of the crops and experiment with 24h fermented washed and standard natural lots. The following year, the harvest was separated by sun grown and shade grown lots and the difference in quality was immediately noticeable. In 2020 the team invested particular time and effort in varying post-harvesting processes. Armed with 3 years of experimentation and documentation, results showed that it was their natural lots that not only scored higher during cupping, but were a lot less resource intensive, which is why now the majority of the coffee is processed that way. 

Locally Developed Varieties

Not many people have tried Venezuelan coffee – even though the country was at one point the largest exporter of coffee in the world. The decline of coffee production started after independence and only accelerated during the oil boom in the 50’s, with coffee exports slowly being reduced to a halt as people left the countryside and flocked to the cities for more profitable work. Nonetheless, the potential for world class coffee production in Venezuela is huge, given its climate, topography and history.

The decarbonisation of Venezeula’s economy has indirectly resulted in the rediscovery of its long coffee cultivating tradition.

Coffees are often engineered to resist disease rather than to necessarily taste better, which was especially the case in the 80’s when a lot of important varieties were produced which are still widely grown today. After a long hiatus, Venezuelan engineers only started developing new varieties of coffee again over the past decade, meaning they had more exciting genetic varieties to play with and were less bound by convention. Hacienda el Recreo is one of the first estates nationally processing these new varieties for specialty coffee, and the results have been astounding. 

HR Yellow Cherries

INIA 01 – This variety has a lot of potential and is a blend of 9 “lines” of various arabicas, including Geisha, Catimor and Caturras amongst others. Not only does it have a high yield, and good resistance to “la roya”, it also cups beautifully.

Colombia 27 – This variety’s name is misleading as it doens’t actually come from Colombia – but actually from Venezuela and was developed in the year 2000. It is an interesting hybrid with a good body, with cashew fruit like notes and high astringency. However it had never been processed as a specialty coffee. We have found lovely peach notes in the 2020 harvest and are excited to see what profiles we can accomplish with it. Like the catuai amarillo it has a yellow cherry rather than the more common red colour.

HR Varieties

Key Facts: Hacienda el Recreo

  • The Estate has 30 hectares of consolidated coffee planted
  • Varieties in order of quantity: INIA01, Colombia 27, Catuai Amarillo, Castillo, Bronceado, Typica, Bourbon Rojo, Geisha, Monte Claro and Caturra.
  • Cherries are always separated by variety, maturity and shade grown vs exposed lots.
  • The estate ranges from 700m to 1600m 
  • Coffee is grown between 900m to 1600m above sea level
  • Because both cacao and coffee are cultivated and processed on the estate, the post harvesting centres have some innovative features about them, each borrowed from the other sector
  • All the coffee above 1300m is forest grown
  • Some of the lots in the wooded areas are recuperated wild coffee trees, mainly typicas originally planted in the ‘50s
  • There is an irrigation system for lots under 1300m which is fed by the onsite well, with lots above 1300m not requiring additional irrigation

With the project now well into its 6th year and the coffee plants maturing nicely, Hacienda el Recreo is finally expecting a commercial harvest starting in 2022 and Landed Coffee Roasters is looking forward to roasting the beans from the place that started it all and sharing the unique experience of trying a coffee that was grown, exported, roasted and served up all by the same family.

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