Fazenda Santa Lucia is located in the growing-region of Campos Altos, the town itself sitting at 1000 meters, much higher than what is average altitude from much of the Cerrado region. This particular farm topping out right around 1200, and is planted in several different varietals, this particular lot being Red Bourbon. Much of the coffee is still manually picked, as part of the farm is situated on a slope, a grade that does not allow for mechanical harvesting. The farm is well-managed, with new milling facilities onsite and the infrastructure to process and store large and smaller lot separations. This particular coffee is naturally processed, meaning the whole cherry is picked from the tree and then laid out to dry for roughly 30 days, after which the dried cherry and parchment layer are mechanically removed. This type of processing tends to impart some fruited flavor on the seed, as well as mute acidity, and produce big body. This lot is one of two peaberry separations we procured from Fazenda Santa Luzia this year, a blend of the different cultivars they are growing on the farm. Roasting can be a little tricky, because there is usually much more chaff produced. Yes, chaff is messy, but more so, it is dark in color, and if still connected to the bean can give the impression that a coffee is darker than it actually is.
A mild nut and unrefined sugar mix comes off the ground coffee, and of the two roasts I tasted, the darker of the two showed a balanced savory sweetness, falling somewhere between City+ and Full City roast level. There's a slight dried fruited smell when adding hot water, like black currant, but is nearly eclipsed by sugar browning and nutty roast tones. One of my roasts was a light City, which turned out to be much too light for this coffee, lacking the developed bittersweetness found in my deeper roast. The flavors in the darker roast showed a melding of nut and cocoa notes, hazelnut chocolate, macadamia, and almond note a few. There's is a subtle fruit accent too, but it's more like the fruited notes you get from some raw nuts, like hazelnut and Brazil nut. There's no accompanying dryness in the finish, and the cup flavors are particularly clean for Brazilian coffee. Nice cup, and I'd like to go back and taste at Full City next time around, which I imagine will also work well for espresso.
Fazenda Santa Lucia is located in the growing-region of Campos Altos, the town itself sitting at 1000 meters, much higher than what is average altitude from much of the Cerrado region. This particular farm topping out right around 1200, and is planted in several different varietals, this particular lot being Yellow Bourbon. Much of the coffee is still manually picked, as part of the farm is situated on a slope, a grade that does not allow for mechanical harvesting. The farm is well-managed, with new milling facilities onsite and the infrastructure to process and store large and smaller lot separations. This particular coffee is naturally processed, meaning the whole cherry is picked from the tree and then laid out to dry for roughly 30 days, after which the dried cherry and parchment layer are mechanically removed. This type of processing tends to impart some fruited flavor on the seed, as well as mute acidity, and produce big body. Roasting can be a little tricky, because there is usually much more chaff produced. Yes, chaff is messy, but more so, it is dark in color, and if still connected to the bean can give the impression that a coffee is darker than it actually is.
From City+ to Full City, this Brazil packs a hefty sweetness of rustic dark sugar notes that balance out bittersweet cocoa tones nicely. The dry fragrance has a bittersweet smell of butter toffee and dark cocoa. The wet grounds give off a whiff "Almond Roca" candies and raisin, a particular sweet spot in the aromatic profile. As a brewed coffee, expect a culmination of dried fruit and unrefined sugar up front, with bittersweet cocoa flavors in the back end. City+ is my recommended starting point, but I think Full City roasts are where the most balance is achieved between developed raw sugar sweetness, rustic dried fruit accents, and lingering cocoa powder flavors. I was taken a back by the sweet and fruited accents in the cup of my Full City roast, natural slab apricot, caramelizing sugars, and a chocolate/hazelnut flavor. This makes a nice single-origin espresso too (or for espresso blend base), with distilled chocolate bittersweetness, subtle prune note, and creamy nut. Best with 48 hours rest.
We selected this lot from Fazenda Sítio Senhor Niquinho, the farm of Luiz Paulo, one of the founders of the coffee intermediary based in Carmo de Minas, who are responsible for organizing the farms in the region we buy coffee from. The farm is located in Carmo de Minas in the Mantiqueira Mountain area, and is named in memory of Luiz' grandfather. Sitio Niquinho is situated on a sloping hillside that spans 1100 - 1500 meters, and has a mix of varietals, though this is a separation of Yellow Bourbon. It's a dry-processed coffee, meaning the whole coffee cherry is harvested and laid to dry for roughly 30 days before being run through dry hulling machinery in order to remove the outer layer of dried fruit and skin. This is the oldest processing method, and when done well, can yield big fruited sweetness, as well as weighty bodied cup. Fazenda Sítio Senhor Niquinho is as fine an example of dry process Brazilian coffees as any we've tasted this season, fruit forward in comparison to the pulp naturals we selected and a great option for blending as a sweet fruited, bodied coffee component.
Sítio Niquinho stood out as a fruit-forward Brazil when put on the cupping table with the other arrivals. It was not alone, but when tasted in context with pulp natural offerings from some of the other neighboring farms, this coffee's cup profile seems 'wild' in comparison. The dry fragrance has a complex web of dried and dehydrated fruit smells, and the wet aroma pushes dark, dried berry to the forefront, along with a palm sugar, rustic sweetness. I don't always recommend light roasting with Brazil, and I'd still say that medium roasts of this coffee are probably my favorite, but unrefined sugar sweetness tasted developed, and dehydrated fruit notes showed nicely in the City roast I cup tested. Still, City+ and Full City roasts are where I think you capture the highest level of sweetness, and balance of sweet and bitter tones too. Dark berry notes come through when the cup is hot, and are even more present when the coffee's cooled a bit. The underlying sweetness is on the rustic side, like rice syrup and date/palm sugar. A ribbon of earthy cocoa runs through Full City roasts, and at this roast level, will make a nice blend base for a fruited espresso (or try on it's own). I would avoid taking the roast too dark as there's a chaffy/roast bittering quality that is just below the surface at Full City, that I think will be much more dominant if taken into 2nd cracks.
This coffee comes from Sitio Sao Jose located in the Carmo de Minas region. The coffee is grown at 1200 meters, and this lot is a separation of cherry from their red Catuai trees. While there are other areas in Brazil that produce some fine coffees in respect to the classic Brazil flavor profile, I feel we have found consistently good lots in the Carmo zone. Here there is a bit more altitude than most of the Cerrado coffees, and certainly more than Mogiana farms. The cultivars are generally the same as the other zones, but I feel the processing, while still on a large scale, has a good quality focus. And I really like how these coffees perform in espresso. This is a pulp naturally processed coffee, which means that the outer cherry and most of the fruit is mechanically stripped from the seed before moving to the drying patios. It takes less than half the time to dry pulp natural coffee than fully natural processed coffee, and they tend to be less fruit forward, and in the context of Brazilian coffees, much cleaner all around.
Coaxing a sugary sweetness out of this coffee takes a bit of roast development, and I recommend trying to draw out the initial roast time up to first crack. We find that Pulp Natural processed Brazils in general seem to benefit from a slower, more gentle roast approach than say a dense Guatemalan or Colombian coffee, helping to develop sugar caramelization while avoiding ashy flavors that can result from roasting lower density coffee. Aromatically speaking, this lot from Sitio Sao Jose has a mild brown sugar sweetness at City+ roast level, creamy condensed milk and roasted peanut in the aroma, and bittersweet at the edges. Brewing produces a mild mix of unrefined sugar and creamy nut tones, roasted peanut and almond flavors bathed in rustic cocoa bittersweetness. Full City boosts the latter, and I would consider this for a chocolate/body base for blending. I personally wouldn't go to Full City+ as the ashy flavors are strong, but some might find that appealing for creamy milk drinks. Best with 48+ hours rest.
"Grupo de Caicedo" is a custom regional blend made up of a handful producers in the region of Caicedo, Antioquia. Working in concert with our sourcing partners in Medellin, we're helping build out a microlot project centered around one of the local associations in Caicedo town. This part of Western Antioquia is home to several highland communities, situated in the mountainous hillsides of the Cordilleras de los Andes. Caicedo town itself rests at a high altitude of 1800 meters, and many of the producer members of the association have coffee planted 1900+ meters above sea level. The way these programs work is, the cooperative allows us use of their lab facilities where we are able to roast and cup samples being delivered by the various farmer members. We then separate out all coffee that meets a minimum quality target, and of those coffees, separate into final quality tiers each with an associated premium attached that goes to the farmer. Last season, farmers were paid over 2x the going rate that they would receive had they sold their coffee to the cooperative. All of their coffee has a home though, and those that do not meet our quality target, are then bought and sold by the association. This is a fully washed coffee, usually handled on home-processing machinery, fermented in tanks, and dried in covered drying rooms. That last part is imperative as being so close to the rainforest of Chocó, this area sees a lot of wet weather. This coffee is a blend of cultivars, mostly Caturra and Variedad Colombia, as well as Typica and Tabi mixed in. (that's Alfonso Murillo and Hector Rivera in the first photo, two producers whose coffees we really liked on our visit December 2017)
The dry fragrance has perfumed sugar smells, like fresh caramel, and raw cane juice. My lightest roast somewhere between City and City+ had fruited accents too when ground, like banana bread with raisins. The wet aroma also offers glimpses of fresh baked sweet breads, caramelizing sugar smells lifted in the steam, and a caramel pudding smell when breaking the crust. The cup shows a fruited sweetness at this roast level, apple juice-like flavor accenting balanced bittersweetness that is central to this coffees flavor matrix. The cool cup boasts fruit juice highlights, like a citrus juice blended with apple, and even slight passion fruit allusion in the aftertaste. There's a pleasing tartness too at City/City+ that gives the acidic impression of huckleberry. And top notes aside, what's at this coffee's core is balance of sugary sweetness and tannic bittering qualities that do a lot to anchor the cup. More roast development will surely indulge this bittersweet side, but I personally enjoy the cup complexity that comes at the lighter end of the roast spectrum.
This cascara tea comes to us from Finca La Vega, a small farm in the mountains of Antioquia, in a town called Amagá. La Vega is a family-run operation, started by husband and wife, Jairo Taborda and Stella Rojas (that's them photographed with their three children in the 2nd image). They have around 13,000 trees planted - mainly Catimor and Castillo - on their 1900 meter farm, and are using fully organic farming methods for their coffee (thought not certified). Cascara is historically a bi-product of coffee production, and in the past processed in a way that lacks intention outside of the drying phase. But interest in the consumable coffee cherry product has grown, and we're seeing more and more care put into the production process, farmers creating a much more stable product, and paying attention to variables such as ripeness of cherry that will affect the end result in the cup. The folks at La Vega start by using the coffee cherry from their first quality ripe cherries. They clean the cherries with fresh water before pulping, run them through a depulping machine to remove the coffee seeds, then send the wet skins to large drying machines where they are dried over low heat to remove all of the moisture. The microclimate in this area tends to be wet, and so drying wet cherry would normally take too long on raised beds in the sun along, or in parabolico drying rooms. Drying is a very important stage of cascara production, and too long on the drying beds with all that moisture in the cherry can mean mold. The mechanical dryer is one way to navigate this hurdle, and other farmers have experimented with other methods including dehydration with some success. Like our cascara product from Costa Rica's Helsar micro-mill, La Vega Cascara Tea ships in 3 oz. bags, which is roughly the volume of 1/2 lb of green coffee. We've tried all sorts of preparation methods, and with a long steep time, we've found cascara to be pretty forgiving. Try starting with 12 grams cherry to 300-350 ml, steeping for 10 minutes and adjust from there. If you don't have a vessel that will hold 350 ml (canning jars are great for this), throw a dozen cherries in a coffee mug with some hot water (just off boil) and steep for 8-10 minutes.
Unlike whole coffee beans, smelling the whole cascara pre-brew does give you some indication as to what you'll find in the cup. At the very least there is a raisiny, dried fruit smell, like putting your nose in a bag of unsweetened dried apricots, or dehydrated green apple. It's that blend of light pectin sweetness, mixed with a sweet and slightly sour smell of drying organic matter (similar to compost in a way). But the flavors in the cup are so much more than this, as are the wetted cherries after having been steeped for several minutes. There's a light and fresh "greenness" in both that reminds me of wetted green tea leaves, and even seaweed salad to some extent, and is quickly followed by a tart floral note of hibiscus tea. Fruit flavors that emerge include dried apple and tamarind, prune, unsweetened dry cranberry, and orange essence water. There's a I enjoy cascara without sweetener, as the level of natural sweetness is light, refreshing, and clean like simple syrup on it's own. That said, we've added table sugar, honey, and other sweeteners in small doses, and the cascara really pairs well with any number of sweeteners. We've found positive results with long steep times, 12 grams in 350 ml of water for about 8 - 10 minutes, or for single serving try throwing 3 grams (roughly 12 cherries) in a mug with hot water, cover and steep for 8+ minutes. There's no need to worry about longer steeping bringing out overly tannic flavors, as this is not the same as black tea. Cascara also has bigger body than most herbal and black teas, on it's way to apple juice in weight. Fool around with steep times, ratios, and additives to find the combination that works best for your taste. As the cup cools in temperature, the silkiness and weight of the liquor becomes more and more apparent, as do sweet to tart fruited flavors like apple, yellow cherry, and ripe cranberry.
This blend of coffee from Inzá is made up from the producers of neighboring towns, or "Veredas" as they're called in Colombia. Hence the name, "Veredas Vecinas", or "neighboring towns". The province of Inzá is located in Southwestern Colombia within the greater Department of Cauca. As you make the drive from La Plata to Inzá, you follow the Rio Paez, and an eventual crossing over a suspension bridge lands you on the road to the the villages whose coffees make up this blend. Like much of Colombia, Cauca is home to some very high altitude farms, many breaching the 2000 meter mark, the coffee from this lot harvested from an altitude range of about 1500 to 2000 meters. The way we make up these regional blends is by cupping several samples from the individual farms, separating out those that meet a certain cup criteria, and then blending them together. It's a great benefit to us (and not to mention the cup) having this level of quality control with our Colombian blends. This is a wet-processed coffee, most farmers using old style hand-cranked pulpers, fermenting and washing in the same tank (the first pic is of a dual-use tank), and then drying out on raised, covered beds. Most farms have a healthy amount of Caturra planted, as well as some Timor hybrids (like Variedad Colombia and Tabi) in response to the major leaf rust outbreak in the 1980's.
The dry fragrance has more than it's share of brown sugar sweetness all the way up to Full City (and probably beyond), that with an accent of vanilla bean, gives off an impression of baked goods. The wet crust has panela sugar smell at City+ roast, clean and sweet, and releases a honey-wheat scent in the steam when breaking through the crust. City roasts show a persistent sweetness in the hot coffee, going from unrefined to pectin sugar flavors as you progress through the cup. A clean brown sugar sweetness underscores the cup, and light fruit accents of pear and apple come through in low volume as the cup temperature cools off a bit. Full City sees an increase in dark chocolate tones as you might expect, and body is heavy, a milky weight on the palate. Wonderful at a wide range of roasts, and for those who desire a Colombian espresso option, expect chocolate syrup and berry tones, viscous mouthfeel, and bittersweetness that endures.
Inza is a province located in Southwestern Colombia within the greater Department of Cauca. As you make the drive from La Plata to Inzá, you follow the Rio Paez, and an eventual crossing over a suspension bridge lands you on the road to the the villages whose coffees make up this blend. Like much of Colombia, Cauca is home to some very high altitude farms, many breaching the 2000 meter mark. This particular lot is a blend of coffees from a few of the neighboring Veredas within the region, altitudes ranging from 1500 - 2000+ meters, . The way we make up these regional blends is by cupping several samples from the individual farms, separating out those that meet a certain cup criteria, and then blending them together. It's a great benefit to us (and not to mention the cup) having this level of quality control with our Colombian blends. Wet processing is traditional in the region, many using old-style hand cranked pulpers, fermenting and washing in the same tank (the first pic is of a dual-use tank), and then drying out on raised, covered beds. This last part is key in facilitating even and gentle drying of the parchment, helping to keep the protective parchment layer intact as the internal moisture dips to around 11 - 12% over the course of a few days to 2 weeks (depending on the micro-climate). Most farms have a healthy amount of Caturra planted, as well as some Timor hybrids (like Variedad Colombia and Tabi) in response to the major leaf rust outbreak in the 1980's. In cupping varietal separations we've found that cup quality is less tied to varietal than we imagined, meaning, we've found Timor hybrids that cup on par with Caturra at the same altitude. This is not always the case (there are rarely "one size fits all" examples in growing coffee!), but it is an important for us as buyers to keep in mind when approaching the ever-growing varietal debates.
City to City+, the dry fragrance displays a nice blend of honey and panela sugar sweetness, with a raisin and walnut accent note at City+ roast level that reminds me of oatmeal cookie. The wet aroma emits a dense smell of dark honey, to my nose finding parity with baklava to as subtle rose water and nut tones are released in the steam when breaking through the wet crust. This is accompanied by a fruited smell of raisin or dark dried plum smell drifting up in the steam off the break. Acidity level is really nice with this coffee, impressive for the origin, and tangy fruit impressions make a lasting impression on the cup profile. Raw cane juice sweetness underscores the cup, and as it cools, the honey sensed in the aroma returns to focus, capturing the flavor of honey that's been whipped with the comb. A yellow cherry note accents the cup in lighter City and City+ roasts, as do flavors of brown sugar and dried currants. Truly a delicious brewed cup with profuse sweetness, and mild fruit complexity all the way up to Full City. Full City roasts develop syrupy chocolate tones, with cinnamon powder highlights. These deeper roast double nicely as a single origin espresso too, delectable, chocolatey shots of espresso with dark fruit tones shadowing in the finish.
A custom Swiss Water decaf from one of our fresh Colombia arrivals. We built this small producer blend from the coffees of small farmers in the La Union area, northwestern Nariño Department. They belong to a local farmer's association in the Vereda Buenos Aires, most of them situated in the hills not far outside of town, and a couple of the farms also in the neighboring Vereda La Jacoba as well. Their farms are planted in Caturra and Variedad Colombia (F4 and F6 types), and most farmers manage a few hectares of coffee (generally speaking, there's 3 - 5k coffee trees planted per hectare). This coffee was also sold as a non-decaf coffee when it arrived in late July, and like the non-decaf sibling, the decaf version tastes great at a wide range of roasts, and makes for a balanced brewed coffee, as well as a bittersweet espresso.
City+ roasts produce a nice balance of sweetness and cocoa roast bittering qualities, that come off in the dry grounds like caramel and chocolate mousse, an intense bittersweetness. Adding hot water only intensifies the effect, and I find wafts of high % dark chocolate, and sugar browning smells in the steam. There's an unexpected pear note too that is released when breaking through the crust. That latter aspect is a precursor fruited side found in the brewed coffee too, and the layers of cup flavors are pealed back in an order similar to the aromatic impressions. Dark chocolate notes play a heavy role in the hot cup, a bittersweet mix of sugary sweetness and roast tone that come off like dark chocolate brownie, or torte. As the cup cools a bit, the flavors shift toward fruited dark chocolate, dried pear and apple laced through chocolate truffle. This coffee really is all about balanced bittersweetness, and with big body, makes for an excellent option for milk drinks, especially when used as espresso. This would make an excellent decaf cappuccino.
Los Buesacos is a blend made up from the coffees of roughly a dozen small producers just outside Buesaco town, Nariño. We put this blend together after cupping a high volume of samples at the association they belong to in Buesaco town, the goal being to separate out any coffees that score 86 points and above, which at a minimum insures the producer a premium that's 50% higher than the association's going rate (in the case of coffees we score micro-lot, the producer is paid a little more than twice the standard price). The local coffee association is a new venture started by two brothers who stepped out on their own to offer a more direct and transparent option than some of the local competitors. Association membership is growing, and we tasted some truly impressive coffees when cupping at their warehouse on our last visit. Farms are typically planted in Caturra and Variedad Colombia (F4 and F6 types), grown at altitudes between 1700 and 2000 meters, and each contributing lot in this batch are fully washed.
At City roast level, the dry fragrance is laced with butterscotch and almond smells, like candied nut bar, or almond brittle candy. With a shade more development, there's a fruited accent that's like a dark dried stone fruit, or raisin smell, and blends in nicely with a solid core bittersweetness. The wet aroma smells caramel-y sweet, a buttery dark caramel smell lifted from the wetted grounds, with a coffee bittering accent that together produce a smell of dark caramel popcorn. That caramel popcorn aspect is apparent in the cup too, especially in my lightest City roast. The flavors up front are a bit like roasted corn and caramelizing sugars, a sweet/savory mix, that gives way to layers of raw sugars and toasted nut tones as the cup temperature cools. There's a return to aspects of nut brittle candy that was sensed in the smells, and the finish leaves behind roasted almond flavor laced with a sweet toffee accent. Full City adds in a ribbon of bittering chocolate roast tone, that while it's particularly dominant when the coffee is hot, shifts toward toasted raw sugar sweetness as the cup cools down a bit.
No surprise that this lot we're calling "Tres Productores" is a blend of three producer's coffees. They are members of an association in the Pitalito region, Huila Department. The farms are planted in a mix of Caturra and Variedad Colombia, a disease resistant strain that is a cross between Caturra and Timor hybrid, and is heavily promoted by the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation ("FNC"). All three coffees that make up this blend are wet processed, meaning the coffee cherry is depulped using hand cranked or small mechanized depulping machines to remove the outer cherry and most of the fruit, then fermenting in a tank in order to remove the remaining sticky layer of fruit mucilage before laying to dry in parabolic drying rooms. This type of processing tends to produce a clean cup, and are much more probably to allow acidic impressions to shine through. This exterior color of this coffee is fairly uniform when roasting, even at lighter levels, though I did pick out a few quaker and semi-quaker beans from my roast batches. These are easy to spot as they are much lighter than the other beans, often puffy and smooth, and can add a nutty flavor to the cup when there's a large amount.
Almond and sweetened dark cocoa smells are produced when grinding City+ roasts, along with an understated raisin-like fruit smell. The wet aroma shares similarities with fresh baked chocolate brownies, a rich bittersweet chocolate smell coming up off the steam, with a contrasting savory nut scent. City+ roasts brew well, as did my Full City roast, both offering a level of sweetness that balances out bittering characteristics to be expected in coffee. That is a lot of what coffee is after all, bittering tones that are offset by the development of sugars, and perhaps further obfuscated by volatile compounds that affect aromatic top notes (which is what we tend to talk more about). Those bittering cacao-like flavors are offset, and the sweetness in middle roasts is like caramelizing brown sugar, producing a slightly pungent bittersweetness. As the cup cools I sense mild top notes of Lipton black tea and Brazil nut, and a muted raisin flavor in the long aftertaste. Body is silky at these roast levels, and flecks of dark cocoa at City+ are built out significantly when the roast is taken to Full City and beyond.
This coffee comes from Doña Maria Rosa, her farm El Nogal tucked away in the hillside above the store her family operates in the town of San Antonio (that's her in the first photo with husband, Alfonso, in front of their store in San Antonio). Finca El Nogal is not reachable by car, a trail curling up around the side of the local school yard, then up, up, up for the better part of an hour to the reach the top at just shy of 2000 meters. During the picking season, Doña Rosa makes this trek daily at 5 am to organize labor for the day's picking, and to check on the processed coffee from the previous day's harvesting. We've stayed with her several times now, and the amount of work she puts into the farm, store, family, and guests is nothing short of incredible. Not surprising, the rest of the family are all involved in their own farms as well, the youngest with a plot named "La Salada", and Robinsón managing a shared 10 hectare farm down the way, Los Palomos del Sur. Los Nogales is about 3 hectares in size, and they've planted 3 different cultivers: Caturra, Tabi, and Typica. Like many in the region, their beneficio consists of a manual de-pulper, and they have a 3 tank system involving separate tanks for fermentation, soaking, and a final wash before being carried down to their home solar dryers in the town below. Their farm is situated along a ridged valley, carbonero trees towering from the valley floor, and banana and balsa trees used for shade.
The smells found in the dry grounds are potent to say the least, a scent of ripe stone fruit is underscored by raw cane juice like sweetness in our lighter City roasts. Full City roasts have a smell of chocolate syrup with hefty blackberry ribbons too, a glimpse of the coming cup. Adding hot water expounds on fruited elements in the wet ground smells, densely sweet berry jam smells, and a floral blueberry tone released in the steam. City roasts make for a fruited cup, and a panela-like sweetness reverberates through to the finish. As the cup cools, cooked berry flavors come up like blueberry and blackberry reductions, fading into a flavor of dried banana and molasses. A tea-like brightness holds the cup flavors together, and provides a nice tannic mouth cleansing sensation in the aftertaste. Edging toward Full City roast level sees a boost in bittersweetness, and together with the berry tones, produces a concoction reminiscent of chocolate covered dried blueberries. The complexity of this lot from Finca El Nogal stands out among the rest, and sure to please those looking for a more fruit forward, wet-processed Colombia offering.
This is the wet processed counterpart to our Gesha duo from Finca La Bohemia. Wet processing involves fermenting freshly de-pulped coffee for 12 - 24 hours in order to remove all of the sticky fruit before laying out to dry. This is widely considered the "cleanest" processing method, in that by removing the wet fruit layer - something that extends the drying period considerably - you remove one more variable of unpredictability that affects the final cup quality (sometimes negatively). And while we've been nothing but impressed with both honey-processed Caturra and Gesha lots from La Bohemia, this coffee proves their versatility and mastery of both processing methods. Finca La Bohemia is located in the small town of Buenos Aires within the greater Department of Nariño. The farm is owned and operated by the Lasso Family, the first to grow coffee in this particular region. La Bohemia is 28 hectares planted in mostly Caturra as well as some Gesha, and sits on a sloping hillside reaching just over 2000 meters above sea level. Siblings Racquel and Hermillas Lasso started a foundation in Buenos Aires about 25 years ago with the purpose of helping local women gain financial independence, often from abusive husbands. The Lasso family identified a domestic violence problem in their town, women often dependent on violent husbands for financial support for their families, who without work of their own felt trapped by their dependence. So they started this program with the idea that the work will afford these women financial independence which in turn puts them in a better position to make decisions for themselves. The program started with a blackberry business that didn't really work out due to a fungal problem, then they moved into supplying cows in order to sell milk (which is still going), and also a coffee association that is still going strong. The association has since moved to the nearby town of La Union where it can serve a wider population. That's Carlos Lasso at La Bohemia in the first photo, another coffee farmer of the Lasso family.
One of two Gesha lots from Finca La Bohemia, the cup flavors in this coffee are clean and succinct, tea-like characteristics highlighting the cup of light roasts. City and City+ roast levels are about the range I'd shoot for with this coffee. Any darker will result in a nice sweet cup, but without the delicate floral tea qualities found at the lighter end of the roast spectrum, which is what makes Gesha coffee special. The brewed coffee has a sprinkle of clove spice and jasmine pearl tea, as well as a tangerine note that adds a juicy touch to the otherwise delicate profile. Top notes are most discernible when the cup is cooling down, and a bright citric acidity comes through with bracing affect. As temperature dips the citrus flavors develop into more pulpy flavors, like orange juice pulp, and the finish is clean to the point of nearly disappearing altogether shortly after drinking. Definitely one of our sweeter Colombian coffees, the aroma and flavor are loaded with honey and a raw cane juice. This Gesha really stands up on it's own, and makes for an interesting comparison to it's honey processed counterpart. This is definitely the more restrained cup profile of the two, and perhaps best tasted on it's own as not to be overshadowed by the more dominant, fruited cup of the honey processed lot.
This dry processed coffee is from the El Pato cooperative, a certified Fair Trade and Organic coop that's operated in the Amazonian Andes since 2003. This is Typica varietal, a large bean coffee, and is dry processed with the whole cherry left intact during the entire drying process. This type of processing tends to produce fruit forward coffees, heavier body, and muted acidity. Such is the case for this coffee from El Palto. The cooperative is invested in coffee quality and quantity, re-investing their premiums in both the farms and the families of farmers. They're currently at nearly 200 members, and have done a great job of isolating quality lots and featuring as micro, single-farm lot offers. Being a dry processed coffee, you can expect a lot of chaff to come off of the beans during the roasting process. This, in combination with the darker color hue that dry process coffees take on, can make judging physical roast characteristics a little tricky. Pay attention to when first crack begins and ends, and adjust your finish times from there.
This dry processed lot is a powerhouse in terms of dense sweetness and the array of fruited notes that are present. Sweetness and complexity aren't hard to come by with this one, and no matter where your roast development winds up, you're sure to be rewarded with a bold, fruit-forward brew. The dry fragrance of City roasts has a strawberry smell, not so much like the actual fruit, but more on the dehydrated side, and reminds me of strawberry milk powder. The wet aroma is filled with dried fruit smells, that with a rustic sweetness comes off a lot like an Ethiopian Harrar dry-process coffee. Full City roasts bring about pungent cocoa roast tones, along with dark berry fruit smells on the break. The cooling cup has a rustic date sugar sweetness, and as the temperature dips, fruited notes like red berry, dried strawberry, and banana chips make quite an impression. It doesn't have the cup clarity of a dry processed Ethiopia Yirga Cheffee coffee, but you'd be hard pressed to not take notice of overt fruit flavors that are out front at a wide range of roasts. There's a winey side too, and the finish has a cranberry liqueur aspect. Darker roasting does little to tone down bold dried and dehydrated fruited notes, and at Full City the cup shows a blend of semi-sweet chocolate chips, dried natural apricot, and grape wine.
The village of El Cautivo is located in one of two coffees we bought from the San Ignacio District, Cajamarca, a region known for producing specialty grade coffee. The group in El Cautivo are one of several who together have formed a coffee farmer's alliance, "Finca Santuario". The goal of this association is to aggregate resources in order to not only gain the small farmer transparent access to the global market, but also work as a collective to increase their coffee's value by planting cultivars with cup quality in mind, and improve harvest techniques as well as processing and drying conditions. This is a fully washed coffee, meaning that after most of the fruit is mechanically removed from the seed, the remaining sticky layer of mucilage is broken down by overnight fermentation and then washed away the next day. Most of the farmers wet-process and dry their coffee at home, and then deliver their dry parchment to the local association arm in town where it is stored until export. This is one of four lots of coffee we bought from Finca Santuario this year, most of which we're finding to be versatile in the roaster, as well as working well in many brew methods (this one is a fantastic espresso!).
Loose leaf tea comes to mind when grinding a City roast of this coffee, a smell that's like popping a box of bagged black tea. You get a sense of caramel malt sweetness and bittering coffee tones too, and City+ strikes a nice balance between these two characteristics. City+ and Full City is where I found the most balanced cups in general, a bittersweet cocoa aroma that plays out in the finish, with an undercurrent of raw sugar finding equal footing. I also roasted to City level, but found the coffee's sweetness to be underwhelming. But middle roasts is where El Cautivo opens up to flavors of brown sugar and a raw Brazil nut, and an interesting sweet yam note in the finish. Full City shows a delicious hazelnut chocolate flavor like Nutella. I enjoyed an espresso shot with my FC roast, finding flavors of semi-sweet chocolate chips, and creamy nut tones in the long aftertaste.
The tiny hamlet of El Horcon is located in San Ignacio District, Cajamarca, a region known for producing specialty grade coffee. With less than 20 families in town, they've banded together as one part of a coffee farmer's alliance called "Finca Santuario". The goal of this association is to aggregate resources in order to not only gain the small farmer transparent access to the global market, but also work as a collective to increase their coffee's value by planting cultivars with cup quality in mind, and improve harvest techniques as well as processing and drying conditions. This is a fully washed coffee, meaning that after most of the fruit is mechanically removed from the seed, the remaining sticky layer of mucilage is broken down by overnight fermentation and then washed away the next day. Most of the farmers wet process and dry their coffee at home, and then deliver their dry parchment to the local association arm in town where it is stored until export. This is one of four lots of coffee we bought from Finca Santuario this year, most of which we're finding to be versatile in the roaster, as well as working well in many brew methods.
Sweetness is apparent in the dry grounds, a mix of nut and spice smells come through like honey-roasted peanut and cinnamon, and Full City showing an subtle anise hint. Nutty sweetness builds with hot water, a sort of walnut brownie smell coming up from the wetted crust, and a waft of candy coated peanut takes shape. City roast is just too light for this coffee, and lacks sweetness that comes with more roast development. City+ roasts had pleasant nut and molasses flavors, and dense body to go with it. But my favorite of my three roasts was Full City, where an underlying cocoa flavor offers a bittersweet backdrop for burned sugar and roasted nut notes to stand out against. The cool cup reminds me of chocolate-peanut butter cookies, and inky body does much to carry that flavor into the long aftertaste, along with a woody spice accent. A bittersweet espresso too, inky, and with loads of baking cocoa, and great for milk drinks.