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Colombia

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Colombia Cauca Popayan WP Decaf

This is from a lot of from the highlands of Popayan in the Colombian Department of Cauca. It has no special pedigree, but ended up being a really, really nice cup quality when we evaluated the arrival sample. This was sent for Water Process decaffeination in Mexico and is one of the brighter, more floral arrivals we have had from this source. In recent years we have been buying some remarkable coffees from Cauca, so while we did not source this lot direct, it makes sense that the cup would be so nice as a decaf. What we have here is a verified solid coffee in non-decaf form, that retained good sweetness and balance through the decaf process. (While there is often the strong possibility of a coffee going "flat" at the decaf plant, losing all its origin character, it always helps to start with a great coffee). Traditionally, brokers bought decaf from the plant, coffee supplied from lower grade "stocklots" by the decaffeinator themselves. The results were never very impressive. Now we are able to designate high quality lots, and get these kinds of results.

This coffee has great brightness in the lighter roasts, as much as any decaf Colombia lots I can recall. The aromatics are fairly mild, fruited, and have marked sweetness, nut roast tones, and hints of citrus. There are more toasty nut notes in the wet aromatics, with raisin fruit. This cup is quite lively and bright at City+ roast levels, reminding me of the really nice Ethiopia decafs. In fact, some might want to take this to FC roast to tone down the cup. I found my favorite roast was FC, before 2nd crack, where the cup had the most balance. The aftertaste has a well defined, cleanly-disappearing sweetness. The body is fairly light at C+, which is not at all a negative because it suits the brisk nature of this cup. It rounds out considerably at FC roast.





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A coffee shrub in Colombia.
Country: Colombia
Grade: Excelso
Region: Popayan, Cauca Department
Processing: Wet Processed, then WP decaf.
Arrival Date: June 2011 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity /Brightness at C+. Balance at FC
Roast: City+ to FC if you want to tone down the brightness a bit)
Compare to: This Cauca coffee cups like a Cauca: it seems to have forgotten that it was sent to Mexico and decaffeinated.
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Colombia Tolima, Misael Garzon Microlot

This is a small lot, single farm coffee from the Gaitania Vereda (District) of Planadas, Tolima Department, Colombia. The ability we have to drill down to the farm level in Colombia is just fantastic, thanks to our relationship with Virmax. These are not estates, these are very very small family farms. Finca El Corazon is the name of Misael Garzon's 6 hectare plantation. That is close to 15 acres, which actually makes it one of the larger farms we deal with in Colombia! It is at an average of 1,666 meters and is planted mainly in Caturra varietal (60%), with Colombia (30%) and Typica (10%) making up for the rest. It is a traditional wet-process coffee, natural fermentation in tanks for 18 hours and then fully washed and sorted using sorting channel. The drying method is referred to as Casa Elda, which means that the parchment coffee is dried on the roof of the home, usually with a retracting cover. (You can see a Casa Elda in my Colombia Small Producers video on youtube, by the way). It's a great coffee ...The dry fragrance has a very potent raisin and stone fruit (peach-plum) sweetness that I find in great Tolima coffees. It has raw sugar notes ... unrefined sugar aka Muscavado, but clean and not overly rustic nor molasses-like. Pear juice is the fruit scent that comes from the wet aroma, along with caramel sauce, mild chocolate bittersweets and a touch of roasted almond. The cup has tangy bittersweet notes that are well-balanced by fruity brightness. The plum and raisin from the aromatics come through, as well as the almondy note in the aftertaste (and a slight cocoa powder/almond skin dryness). I love this fine balance between bittersweet and sweet when the cup is warm, and in fact it turns toward sweetness a it cools, with a range of juicy flavors coming out: the syrupy peach and pear flavors. I preferred City+ roast but darker roasts are nice too, with more aggressive chocolate truffle notes and dense body. I have not had the chance to visit the farm (nor any in South Tolima, since it is still unstable with FARC activity in the vicinity! I am hoping this will change soon).



This coffee is part of our direct trade Farm Gate pricing transparency program.

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Typical coffee tree and careful shade tree plantings in Tolima.
Country: Colombia
Grade: Estate
Region: Tolima, Planadas, Gaitania
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: Late February 2010 Arrival, Vac Pack
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra, Colombia, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Clean transparent cup, bittersweet balance
Roast: City+ roast has the best cup, but darker roasts worked well too.
Compare to: A classic, clean wet-process cup ... something that does well in the competitions.
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Colombia Gaitania "Los Pijaos de Tolima"

This coffee is simply a great lot that arrived as a "spot coffee" (which means it is arrived and available in a warehouse) offered by an importer. It's not from our direct trade program in Colombia where we select lots from specific micro-producers, lot by lot. But interestingly it comes from an area adjacent to where we are buying quite a bit of coffee already, and in fact we have bought from ACEDGA cooperative in the past. Gaitania Tolima is not far from Planadas and Rioblanco, where we work with cooperative groups to buy microlots. And this coffee happens to be really nice, for the same reasons we are fans of South Tolima coffees in general. Los Pijaos is a tribute to the indomitable tribe that held the area before colonization and it's also the nickname for the well-regarded Desportes Tolima soccer team. The fragrance from the grounds has milky chocolate scents, and a strong raisin sweetness (which reminds me specifically of these incredible Black Prima raisins I had recently. There are hushed floral qualities too, which come out in the wet aromatic as violets. I found that the cup can take a wide latitude of roasts, and has a really nice chocolate roast taste at Full City levels. There is a raisiny dried fruit sweetness, a bit of plum, and spices in the finish, including clove notes and a touch of cardomom. Did I mention it's extremely balanced? ...perhaps an overused comment but balance is the right term for the relation between brightness and body here. Really attractive bittersweet roast notes linger in the finish, clean and long-lasting.





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Pride of Tolima! Los Pijaos de Tolima is the nickname for Desportes Tolima.
Country: Colombia
Grade: Supremo
Region: Gaitania, Tolima
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: February 2010 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 18+ Screen
Varietal: Typica and Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Apple, spices, orange tea, medium-light body
Roast: City+ to Full City
Compare to: Classic Tolima flavors with rounded body, balance, dried fruit, chocolate
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Colombia WP Decaf -Huila Excelso

This is from a lot of from the area of Huila, in south Colombia. It has no special pedigree, but ended up being a really, really nice cup quality when we evaluated the arrival sample. This was sent for Water Process decaffeination in Mexico and is one of the brighter, more floral arrivals we have had from this source. In recent years we have been buying some remarkable coffees from this region of South Huila department, and in fact our most recent Cup of Excellence coffee is from the same area. So what we have here is a verified solid coffee in non -decaf form, that retained great sweetness and balance through the decaf process. (While there is often the strong possibility of a coffee going "flat" at the decaf plant, losing all its origin character, it always helps to start with a great coffee. Traditionally, brokers bought decaf from the plant, coffee supplied from lower grade "stocklots" by the decaffeinator themselves. The results were never very impressive. Now we are able to designate high quality lots, and get these kinds of results). This coffee has great brightness in the lighter roasts, as much as any decaf Colombia lots we have ever had. The aromatics are fairly mild, floral, and have marked sweetness, nutty roast tones, and hints of citrus. There are more toasty nut notes in the wet aromatics, with vanilla and sweet raisin. This cup is quite lively and bright at C+ roast levels, reminding me of the really nice Ethiopia decafs. In fact, some might want to take this to FC roast to tone down the cup. I found my favorite roast was FC, before 2nd crack, where the cup had the most balance. The aftertaste has a well defined, cleanly-disappearing sweetness. The body is fairly light at C+, which is not at all a negative because it suits the brisk nature of this cup. It rounds out considerably at FC roast.





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Huila coffee shrub, photographed from early this season
Country: Colombia
Grade: Excelso
Region: South Huila
Processing: Wet Processed, then WP decaf.
Arrival Date: June 2009 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity /Brightness at C+. Balance at FC
Roast: City+ to FC if you want to tone down the brightness a bit)
Compare to: This Huila cups like a Huila: it seems to have forgotten that it was sent to Mexico and decaffeinated.
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Colombia Cauca -Oro de Suarez

Suarez is a municipality in the northern part of the Cauca department, a place well known for gold mining (hence the mill mark Oro de Suarez). For me, Cauca coffees have typically had a deeper, darker flavor profile than other origins in Colombia ... and there is a lot of variety from the various departments (states) of Colombia. Raisin sweetness, tropical fruits, slightly lower acidity, slightly more body, ripe fruit/winey accents; these are things I have found from Cauca coffees in the past. Some of those flavors hint at processing traditions, perhaps allowing coffee fruit to ripen to a crimson red on the tree, perhaps longer fermentation times in the wet-processing. So they may indicate a coffee tradition in local culture, and not something that comes from the climate, the cultivar and the soil. But I enjoy Cauca coffees and find them distinct from, say, the Huila and Narino lots from the South. This coffee from Suarez certainly falls in line with my expected hopes for the Cauca cup. The dry fragrance has a lush, tropical fruit sweetness with a hint of Goiabada, the Latin American sweet Guava paste. There's also a soft milk chocolate which comes through in the wet aroma, along with tamarind fruit. The cup has dark brown sugar sweetness, with fruited flavors of concord grape fresh black fig and raisin. It has a lower acidity level than coffee from Huila and other current offerings, and perhaps more body. The finish has a slight black pepper accent, and there is a dry bittering hint in the aftertaste that reminds me of mild tannins of grape skins, and a suggestion of tobacco. But in all, the dark fruited sweetness is the primary cup flavor here. It's a classic Cauca coffee in that respect.





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Colombia coffee cherries, from my last trip.
Country: Colombia
Grade: Estate Grade, Euro Prep.
Region: Suarez town, Cauca department
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: Late March 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra, Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Dark fruited sweetness, opaque body.
Roast: Commentary refers to City+ roast, but at FC roast still has fruited notes, with more spice and bittersweetness.
Compare to: Classic Cauca dark fruited flavors.
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Colombia MC Decaf - Huila Tolima

This is a lot from the Tolima district, Huila department. In recent years we have been buying some remarkable coffees from this region of South Huila department, and in fact our most recent Cup of Excellence coffee is from the same area. So what we have here is a great coffee, sent direct to the German decaffeination plant KVW for their Methyl Chloride (MC) process and then returned to us. While there is often the strong possibility of a coffee going "flat" at the decaf plant, losing all its origin character, it always helps to start with a great coffee. Traditionally, brokers bought decaf from the plant, coffee supplied from lower grade "stocklots" by the decaffeinator themselves. The results were never very impressive. Now we are able to designate high quality lots, and get these kinds of results. In fact, this is one of the brightest, most lively decaf Colombia lots we have ever had, and I dare say it keeps pace with fine quality non-decaf Colombia offerings. The fragrance of the dry grounds is noticeably sweet and bright. The wet aroma has a bit of citrus and floral component. The cup has sweet orange, and is very lively, especially when you consider it is a decaf. Some of my tests roasts were too light for this type of brightness; City roast tasted too sour. At City + and darker the fruited notes were in much better balance. The body is light, and this suits the crisp character of this coffee. It rates well among other quality non-decaf Huila lots, and that's impressive in itself!





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Country: Colombia
Grade: Excelso
Region: Tolima Region, Huila
Processing: Wet Processed, then MC decaf.
Arrival Date: March 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity / Crisp citrus notes, clean sweet cup.
Roast: City+ for the cup I describe, FC if you want to tone down the brightness a bit
Compare to: This Huila Tolima cups like a fine Huila: it seems to have forgotten that it was sent to Germany and decaffeinated.
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Colombia Antioquia -Jardin Cerulean Warbler

Antioquia coffees haven't been receiving the attention of other coffee-producing areas in Colombia, such as Narino and Huila. Formerly, is was just a part of the great "coffee triangle" known as MAM: Medellin, Antioquia, Manizales. The focus was on quantity, although like all Colombia the coffee came from small-holder farms and was pooled indiscriminately, graded non-sensically for size (Excelso, Supremo, Etc) rather than cup and apellation. Things have changed so much since then, and great coffees are being singled out for special recognition. Now the smaller cooperatives are doing the same on behalf of their "socios", their members. This is a small lot that distinguished itself with outstanding cup character, but also as part of a progressive environmental project at Co-op Andes in Antioquia. The coffee is basically called "Cerulean Warbler Garden"! Hmm... well, it is part iof a specific project for conservation a bird in dire straits, the Cerulean Warbler, with a population of around 500,000. Much of this is due to destruction of mature forest in the Eastern U.S. but the effect of coca-leaf growing and full-sun coffee in it's winter habitat, the Andes, plays a key role. Co-op Andes has forest conservation projects and is shade grown. The Cerulean Warbler lot is a joint effort between small farmer-members of Co-op Andes and a local conservation group. No, there is a not a Cerulean Warbler in every bag, and in fact I diodn't know it was part of an audubon project when I first cupped it ... it was the favors and aroma that impressed me! The dry fragrance is sweet and delicately fruited, with tamarind character and sweet , toasted hazelnut. In the cup there is a wonderful bright tamarind fruit, matching the fruited aromatics, with peach notes as it cools. The aftertaste has this fantastic peach-tamarind flavor linger, and beautifully fade. There's a twist of citrus initially, which passes quickly to the above mentioned fruit, while floral character prevails from start to finish: passionfruit flower. This is an amazing, delicate cup and needs a fairly light roast treatment to preserve these floral aromatic qualities.





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Country: Colombia
Grade: Excelso EP
Region: Andes, Antioquia
Processing: Wet Process
Arrival Date: March 2008 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen
Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / at C+ roast, peach-tamarind fruited notes
Roast: City+ is ideal. It may still appear a bit "dry", with a wrinkled surface texture at this point, but we don't taste with our eyes! Also works great at FC+ but the delicate fruited notes are muddled a bit.
Compare to: Very refined Colombia cup profile, highly floral
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Colombia Huila San Jose de Isnos

San Jose de Isnos is in the southwest part of Huila department, and is famous not only for coffee but for its archaeological ruins, namely‚ El Alto de los Idolos and El Alto de las Piedras, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, created by the San Augustin culture in pre-history. It's a rugged terrain with altitude ranging from 1400 - 1800 meters for coffee production. The lots are sun dried in sheltered patios, which protect the coffee in case of unexpected showers (which are common). Adequate drying of coffee can be a problem in areas where rain comes during the drying time for coffee. But in Huila, they care for the coffee well, mainly because all farms are small-holders in size; there are few "estates" in the south. They pick and process coffee in small lots, drying them on covered rooftop "parabolic dryers", like a little greenhouse open on each end to encourage airflow. Many of these smallholders dry on raised beds/screens, which shortens dry time even further. The result is clean coffee, without musty or fermenty fruit flavors, which can happen when coffee dries too slowly. This lot isn't one of our special Farm Gate (direct trade micro-lot) Colombias, just something that cupped nice. This is a very nice cup! The dry fragrance has a dynamic and sweet smell of raisin, chocolate and nut; a very confectionary combination! The aromatics are caramel-like and sweet, and raisin notes come out with some mild hint of citrus. The cup has a medium-light body, and a bracing fruited brightness with tangy roast notes in the finish. The acidity is pleasantly sharp, and pairs well with golden raisin fruit flavor. Acidity and sweetness are tightly knit together. while these comments refer to the recommended City+ roast level, the darker roasts are very nice with dried, dark fruit (Monukka raisin, fig and prune) and chocolate. At most levels of roast, this cup has a compelling fruited complexity.





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On a balcony amidst steep Huila coffee terrain, from my last trip there.
Country: Colombia
Grade: Estate Grade
Region: Isnos, Southwest Huila
Processing: Wet-processed
Arrival Date: Late March 2009 Arrival
Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Bracing fruited brightness
Roast: Commentary refers to City+ roast, but at FC roast there is nice with dried, dark fruit and chocolate.
Compare to: Clean, bright Huila coffees with interesting fruited complexity. This is a lot we donated half the proceeds to Grounds for Health, a medical campaign for rural health screenings in coffee areas.
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Colombia WP Decaf - Huila Pitalito

This is from a special lot of from the Pitalito area of Huila, that was basically overstock. There was too much, and it seemed wise to send a portion of it for Water Process decaffeination in Mexico than try to sell it all non-decaf. In recent years we have been buying some remarkable coffees from this region of South Huila department, and in fact our most recent Cup of Excellence coffee is from the same area. So what we have here is a verified solid coffee in non -decaf form, that retained great sweetness and balance through the decaf process. (While there is often the strong possibility of a coffee going "flat" at the decaf plant, losing all its origin character, it always helps to start with a great coffee. Traditionally, brokers bought decaf from the plant, coffee supplied from lower grade "stocklots" by the decaffeinator themselves. The results were never very impressive. Now we are able to designate high quality lots, and get these kinds of results). This Pitalito coffee has great brightness in the lighter roasts, as much as any decaf Colombia lots we have ever had, and I dare say it keeps pace with some fine quality non-decaf Colombia offerings. The aromatics are fairly mild, but have marked sweetness, nutty roast tones, and hints of citrus. There are more toasty nut notes in the wet aromatics, with vanilla and sweet apricot. This cup is quite lively and bright at C+ roast levels, reminding me of the really nice Ethiopia decafs. In fact, some might want to take this to FC roast to tone down the cup. I found my favorite roast was FC, before 2nd crack, where the cup had the most balance. The aftertaste has a well defined, cleanly-disappearing sweetness. The body is fairly light at C+, which is not at all a negative because it suits the brisk nature of this cup. It rounds out considerably at FC roast.





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Huila coffee shrub, photographed from early this season
Country: Colombia
Grade: Excelso
Region: Pitalito Region, South Huila
Processing: Wet Processed, then WP decaf.
Arrival Date: December 2008 Arrival
Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen
Varietal: Caturra
Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity /Brightness at C+. Balance at FC
Roast: City+ to FC if you want to tone down the brightness a bit
Compare to: This Huila cups like a Huila: it seems to have forgotten that it was sent to Mexico and decaffeinated.
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