Colombia is a diverse group of growing regions spread from North to South along the three "cordilleras," the mountain ranges that are the Northern extensions of the Andes. Colombian coffees can be outstanding. Most coffee, especially from the Southern growing areas of Huila, Cauca, Narino and Tolima, comes from small family farms, and when the picking and processing are done well they can be exceptional: Silky body, cane sugar sweetness, floral hints and traces of tropical fruits are found in the best Colombia coffees.
This lot from Pitalito is made up of four different small producer lots in the micro region of Montebonito - Ismael Calderon, and three family members Marilu, Favier, and Alexander Guttierez. Montebonito sits at about 1700 meters and these small farms are planted in mostly Caturra, and processing is of the 'traditional' method, and onsite. They all use manual hand-crank depulping machines to remove the outside coffee cherry from the beans, and then ferment for 1-2 days in the same tank where the coffee is later washed. They use raised beds for drying the coffee which affords the coffee good air circulation and even drying. In short, these folks oversee the transformation of their coffee cherry to dried parchment, which is a real benefit, allowing the farmer to oversee how their coffee is handled, sorted, prepped every step of the way. Sometimes we keep individual lots separate to showcase the unique profile a microlot has to offer. And in cases such as this, we come across a few (often neighbors) separate farm lots that are complimentary to each other, and make sense to blend together. And doing so makes for a much larger overall lot of coffee to offer out to our customers.
The dry fragrance of the lot from Montebonito has a scent of vanilla wafers, with a bit of dried pear and wildflowers. It's a nice set of smells right out of the grinder, and is maintained through the wet aroma. The break releases a chocolatey note along with rich caramel. City roasts cup clean, but were too light for our taste not fully developing the potential sweetness. This coffee cups best at City+ and beyond, and is the point at which notes of apple, chocolate, citrus oil, and black tea emerge. At full city there's a nice pear flavor up front, along with a crisp, malic acidity and then fading into a finish of chocolate mousse. It's a straight forward, clean cup of coffee, and one that is definitely of the multi-purpose variety making a great single-origin espresso.
The small town of Buesaco is on the Pacific Coast side of Colombia in the greater Departament of Narino. This is a very unique part of Colombia in that coffee can be grown at extremely high altitudes due to the climate that is a result of being in close proximity to the Equator. This particular lot is made up from a few small-holders in the area, all producing coffee on less than 2 hectares each. Production involves hand-crank depulpers, and the coffee is fermented and washed onsite, and then laid out on covered drying beds. A simple method producing very solid results.
This coffee from Buesaco has an interesting scent to it, lightly fruited and sweet, and with a uniquely sweet smell of fresh bread right out of the grinder. There's an inciting smell of fresh pumpernickel, like dark sugars and caraway seed. It combines well with notes of caramel sauce and with plum fruit and concord grape. Hot water brings on a smell of Pecan pie, deeply sweet like it's saturated with brown sugar and butter. There's a maltiness in darker roasts, that is like sugar in the raw. The cup is smooth, sweet, and with a touch of malic tartness in the acidity. There is a lactic quality too that reminds me of fresh cream caramel, which plays off flavors of apple juice nicely. At Full City roasts have a juiciness to them with a slight tart note, like cranberry grape juice. The mouthfeel is silky and with a finishing flavor of sweet cocoa. City+ is about as light as I'd take this coffee with Full City roasts really developing potential sweetness.