March 30, 2023

Oh hey there Thieves friends! Another month, another delicious coffee to be featured. This time around we’re featuring The Santuario Project – a coffee farm founded by Camilo Merizalde located in the elusive Totoro Region of Colombia. 

Camilo partnered with beloved Melbourne roastery, Criteria Coffee, to bring you two exceptional coffees this month. Think sweetly spiced filter brew and an espresso roast giving strong brown sugar and yellow peach vibes. Drool!





We spoke with Camilo Merizalde, Founder of The Santuario Project – the Colombian coffee farm that provided Melbourne based roastery, Criteria Coffee, with your beans this month. Camilo talks to us about how he started The Santuario Project, what makes his farm unique and his very special coffee growing region!

Tell us about yourself and how The Santuario Project got started.

Hi everyone at Thieves, I’m Camilo Merizalde and I’m the Founder of The Santuario Project. I actually started off my career as a financial trader, with zero experience in the coffee industry. During my visits to suppliers I had many people asking me where they could find good quality Colombian coffee. So when I traveled back home to Colombia I reached out to people who worked in coffee farming so I could learn more about the specialty coffee industry. By 1997, after tons of research, I started a coffee project inspired by old Colombian farms from the 60s and 70s.

I began promoting Santuario Farm during my trips to the USA and Europe. It was very exciting to hear the positive feedback from international importers and roasters. All they had to hear was: Colombia, Cauca state, specialty farm, 180 hectares, 2.000 mts high, shade grown, Red Bourbon, Typica, prolonged fermentation techniques, and a coffee garden with 18 varietals. That sold the farm! Back then it was a one of a kind project that was able to fulfill the dreams of many Colombian coffee lovers.



Where did the name ‘Santuario’ come from?

‘Santuario’ is the Spanish word for ‘sanctuary’. It came from the fact that we created a sanctuary and dream farm in a very difficult area of Colombia – the Cauca Mountains. Our logo also resembles a female Harvester with the image of a virgin in the background due to there being lots of Catholic influence in the nearby city of Popayan.

Tell us more about the Colombian coffee farms and the growing region.

Santuario Cauca is located in the Totoro Region of Colombia. Mainly Bourbon coffees and a few other varietals grow best here. Our farm is at the perfect altitude which provides incredible conditions to grow coffee. Our coffees are being processed in the neighbouring city of Armenia at the new Campo Hermoso processing centre with Edwin Noreña. We also have associate farms in the region that supply us with coffees.





Shout out to a Melbourne favourite, Criteria Coffee! Thank you for roasting up some truly delicious beans for our Thieves Community this month. We thought it’d also be fun to pick Co-Founder and Head Roaster Craig Simon’s brain a little. What’s he getting up to in the great state of Victoria and what music is he listening to while roasting? Read our interview with him below!

What are your current favourite hang out spots?

We’re really enjoying the outskirts of Melbourne and regional Victoria. Definitely keen to check out FIN Wines in Dixons Creek next. Can’t go past an afternoon exploring the Yarra Valley. Thankfully, wine tastings do count as palate development! We love to explore the influence wine processing has on flavour, which is very similar to coffee. 

What do you think is the most exciting thing about your local coffee scene right now?

A return to hosting events and seeing our cafes humming again! We feel very fortunate to be working in a space where we can host cuppings, knowledge events and guest speakers. There’s a flourishing group of new roasters that are coming up through the Criteria Co-Roastery that are making super-high-quality coffee and working with farmers directly which is fostering some exciting new projects and coffee releases.

What are your go-to music tracks at the moment?

My past as a Jazz Drummer definitely plays a big influence on the music we listen to in the roastery! On heavy rotation at the moment is Welcome by Don Glori. It’s an awesome first album – well worth the listen.





Colombia / Red Bourbon / Gold Wash
This month’s filter coffee is a delicious Red Bourbon cherry using Gold Wash processing. A very unique flavour profile described as “spicy” with an aroma that reminds us of tamarind. 

Coffee Origin:

Tasting Notes:
Notes of tamarind, ginger and star fruit

Suggested Recipe for Filter:
15g coffee to 250g water
50g bloom for 30 seconds
Slowly top up another 200g water for 2:00-2:30 minutes



Colombia / Ethiopia Espresso Blend
This month’s espresso blend consists of 60% washed Red Bourbon coffee from the Santuario Project in Colombia, in addition to a 40% natural process regional Ethiopia blend.

Coffee Origin:
Colombia & Ethiopia

Tasting Notes:
Notes of peach and toffee

Suggested Recipe for Espresso:
Dose in 22.5g
Dose out 40g
In 22-28 seconds