The idea for this box set came from the mind of Pepe Jijón. Late one evening in August, I received a long WhatsApp voice message from Pepe, mapping out his vision to create a box set featuring a coffee brewed by Johann Buenańo, the current Brewers Cup Champion of Ecuador, and roasted by Onyx. Pepe's idea was to feature what Johann did on stage, making this experience available past only a select few judges and coaches.
Within a few weeks, we flew to Ecuador, where Pepe picked us up from the Quito airport, and we blasted through the outskirts of the city on our way to Finca Soledad in the Intag Valley. We spent the subsequent days walking the farm, seeing firsthand Pepe's passion for the land and coffee. Johann joined us on the farm, brewing the early concepts of this finalized blend. This was not only our first time visiting Ecuador, but our first time working with both Finca Soledad and Hacienda Santa Gertrudis. Within a few short conversations, it was clear that the concept of this box set arose out of mutual respect and trust to uphold the quality of both Pepe Jijón and Jose Luis' coffees. The final touch was to set up and shoot a brew guide with the champion himself, Johann Buenańo, amongst the beautiful Gesha trees at the farm.
As a gesture of support, both Pepe and Jose Luis paid 20% of the green proceeds to Johann to support his journey to worlds, and we at Onyx will be paying out 25% of the profit of this box set to support his travel, and to honor his hard work as an ambassador for Ecuador.
Visiting Soldedad with Pepe is one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve personally ever had on a coffee farm. Passion for coffee and for the land is underpinned with each decision he makes. As you approach the farm from the Intag Valley, it’s not clear at first that coffee is even planted as he points to the farm from his truck. The four hectares of coffee he has planted is completely shrouded with a forest of trees that Pepe and his family has planted himself, as they reforest the native trees and plants that were removed over years of harsh farming and mining. Pepe practices a biodynamic approach to farming, utilizing feedback from his systems to determine what each part of the farm needs as he continues to rehabilitate the land. He also has a burgeoning roasting business within Ecuador, where he supplies friends and businesses with roasted coffees from Ecuador and other producing countries like Panama. It’s clear that roasting coffee is a connection point for him as much as production is.
Outside of coffee production and roasting, Pepe was the first person from Latin America to solo-climb the seven highest summits on each continent, with a clear tenacity that carries through everything he does, including his friendships.
HACIENDA SANTA GERTRUDIS
Due to some unforeseen circumstances, unfortunately Jose Luis was not able to join us on our shared stay at Finca Soledad as we dreamt up this box set. His history in coffee production is three generations long, as the farm has been planted with coffee for well over fifty years. In 2019, Jose Luis turned to producing high-end specialty coffee, with much acclaim. In the 2022 Cup of Excellence auction, Jose Luis took 14th place with his washed Sidra lot. Outside of the auction, coffees from Santa Gertrudis fetch regularly high prices to clients across the globe, and are often sought after from both competitors and green buyers alike. Despite our lack of meeting in person, it’s clear from the stories told about Jose Luis that he is a person that spreads joy and laughter any place he goes, and we look forward to working with him again in the future.