Hernan Quispe is a member of the Agricafe Sol de la Mañana programme along with 50 other farmers. The programme trains them in producing higher quality coffee and higher yields on their existing farms using environmentally friendly practices. All coffee in the region uses organic methods, and even farmers who are not part of the programme have learned from their neighbours, increasing the use of environmentally practices across La Paz. This is important because this part of Bolivia is considered the door to The Amazon, a globally important rainforest under threat from large scale commercial agriculture. This area of Bolivia has seen small scale farmers lured in to more harmful coca growing for cocaine as a result of legalisation in some regions. Programmes such as Sol de la Mañana allow traditional farmers working in harmony with nature to earn a better income from their coffee, reducing the risk of them switching to more harmful intensive farming.
Hernan is growing his coffee under shade, using native trees like banana, citrus and wood essence trees. He is farming these crops on 3 hectares at 1,600 metres above sea level. He decided to work with four varieties: Caturra, Yellow and red Catuai and Typica. He selectively hand picks his coffee cherries, selecting only those that are perfectly ripe and processes them using a hand pulping machine. The wet parchment is then fermented with no additional water (dry fermentation) in tanks for 15 hours before being dried on raised beds for 15 days with constant hand-shifting, keeping airflow constant on all sides of the seed. His coffee is then taken to the Agricafe owned Buena Vista Mill for quality control and cupping before being sold to coffee buyers.
The Rodriguez family have run Agricafe since 1986. They started out renting wet mills and buying coffee from other producers before building their own wet mill in Caranavi then a dry mill in La Paz. In 2013 the family decided to start farming too in response to the drop in coffee production. They work with coffee consultants from different countries to learn best practices, and their education programmes allow farmers like Hernan Quispe to benefit from this knowledge.