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 to us from the region of Pedralva, in the Mantiqueira micro region, an area that boasts over 2000 "small holder" farmers. I'm using quotes here, as we don't usually consider farmers with 30, 40, even 50 hectares as "small holders". But this is quite small for Brazil, home to massive estates with fully mechanized harvesting operations. Many of the farmers in Pedralva still do some manual picking, allowing for better separation of ripe and underripe cherry. This particular lot is from Pedra Branca, a processing facility that was erected as part of a quality-focused initiative, providing the local farmers state of the art processing infrastructure where they can process smaller batch sizes. The facility is equipped to produce both pulp-natural and dry-processed coffees, this being the former. The farms are located around the Pedra Branca mountains, plantings in the 1300 meter range and planted mainly in Yellow Bourbon and Catuai, although this is a Yellow Bourbon separation. We found that the cup profile tastes the most settled with at least 48 hours.
We're pleased with this Pedra Branca coffee, a cup that strikes a balance between unrefined sugar sweetness and roasted nut tones typical of the region. I think City+ is a good starting point in terms of roast level, the dry fragrance offering glimpses of dark sugar and nut smells, much like sweetened peanut sauce, and subtle dry spice notes. Adding hot water draws out a smell of dried banana and raw sugar, a nutty sweetness lifted in the steam. Our Full City roast showed a fair amount of cacao/roast bittering tones too, offset by rustic sugar sweetness, and a faint green melon accent. The cup has bittersweetness you expect from Brazil, underlying cacao-like accents with countering molasses sugar sweetness. The pulp natural process definitely tones down fruit flavors, though I do taste hints of banana cooked with dark sugars (think banana bread loaf). Full City cups offer layered cocoa expressions, roasted almond and peanut flavors accentuated in the finish. This coffee cups with body and heft at City+ and Full City+ and will make a great SO espresso, or blend component.
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.
One of two Gesha lots we purchased from Finca La Bohemia, this is the honey-processed version. Honey processing involves leaving some of the sticky fruit intact with the coffee seeds during the entire drying period, and tends to result in fruited sweetness, but at the risk of muting a coffee's acidity, and clarity. The latter is part of the reason we buy so few honey processed coffees, and it can be particularly troubling when you see a potentially great coffee like a Gesha compromised by bad processing technique. Needless to say, we were a little skeptical when this sample was put in front of us, but were totally floored by the cup quality shortly into our assessment. We think you will be too! 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 (that's Racquel and Carlos Lasso, another family member, in the first photo). 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. Right now we have both honey and wet processed Gesha lots from Finca La Bohemia available, which you can buy individually, or as a duo sample set at a slightly discounted price here.
This is the honey processed companion in a Gesha duo, the other wet processed, both from the same farm in Cartago, Nariño. Of the two, this is perhaps the more showy in that fruit and floral notes are more easily sensed from hot to cool, and fruit-forward characteristics tend to show in high volume at a wider range of roast. Be that as it may, I still highly recommend sticking to the lighter end of the roast spectrum here, as too far south of City+ will squash much of the floral and fruit intensity. Don't worry about developing sweetness with this coffee, as there's so much to be tasted even at City roast level. The aroma is super floral, jasmine flower, and floral fruit notes like yellow cherry at peak ripeness, along with a tart fresh cranberry note. That fruited aspect becomes winier the cooler the cup gets, revealing a wine-like tang that you would expect from slightly fermented cherries. This is probably an affect of process method, and comes off nicely atop deep sweetness that imparts flavors of fresh pressed cane juice. This is such a sweet coffee, body is big too, and the finish is quite clean compared to many other full honey coffees we've tasted. A brisk, tea-like acidity cuts through the complex profile, and mouthfeel is like the tannic side of fine black tea. There's alot to unpack in this coffee's cup profile, so make sure to sip as it cools, and enjoy the array of juicy fruit flavors that unfold.
This blend of coffee from Inzá, Cauca is made up from the small producers from towns, or "Veredas" as they're called in Colombia, that lie in the shadow of the monolithic mountain ridge named "El Hato". El Hato roughly translates to "herd", like a herd of cattle, a term actualized in this ridge as a steep mountain face, whose vertical striation is a physical representation of cattle (the first photo is of the ridge at left). 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 Páez, 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 a red fruit and muffin-like smell reminiscent of raisin or blueberry muffin. The wet crust too has a quality that's like baked goods, pancakes with berry syrup, and a sweet honey-wheat scent on the break. City roasts show a persistent sweetness in the hot cup, going from simple syrup like flavor up front to unrefined, and toasted sugar flavors as you progress through the cup. A dried apple note comes up as the coffee cools, as does a tart to bitter accent of lemon rind. The acidic impressions in light roasts are like blackberry, a pleasant tartness that marks the cup and gives a palate cleansing effect in the finish. Full City roasts have berry fruit flavors intertwined with bittersweet chocolate, which in the finish comes off like chocolate/berry liqueur. Wonderful at a wide range of roasts, and for those who desire a Colombian espresso option, our shots of a Full City roast boasted loads of chocolate with dark fruited hints, viscous mouthfeel, and lasting bittersweetness.
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.
Nilson Lopez is one member of a farmers association in Buesaco town, northwestern Nariño Department. We had the pleasure of visiting the association end of last year, and were able to cup several tables of samples which built out a good chunk of our late December container of arrivals. Most of the lots were so small that we blended them by region and score in order to have sizable offerings for our green coffee list. Don Lopez on the other hand, presented us with a delicious sample of a 20 bag lot of coffee and so we were able to bring in as a single producer. Unfortunately we were not able to visit his farm in Vereda Las Cochitas, but plan to during the 2018 harvest. The association he is a part of are relatively new, but the leadership are not new to running an association, and they've set up a well organized warehouse in town. They are also experienced cuppers, which helps when working to calibrate on a quality target. 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), and this is a fully washed batch.
The dry fragrance pushes fruit tea and cider smells fresh from the grinder, raw sugar sweetness that has a rustic side like rice syrup, and citrus rind. Full City roasts have a dark berry smell, along with a blast of dark cacao. The aromatics coming up off the wet crust are very sweet, more of a caramel side to it, along with an essence of cooked fruit and butterscotch. The citrus rind note comes full circle in the hot cup, a tangy/bittering note that's like orange rind comes through when drinking hot, and as you move through the coffee, a lemon note also pops up amidst dried fruit flavors. At City, the level of sweetness is intense and akin to raw sugars like palm or date, which holds up to darker roasting too. My Full City roast had attractive dried fruit notes that were hard to put my finger on under the weight of dark cocoa that's ushered in with roast development. Pulling a shot of espresso after 4 days rest produces compact bittersweet chocolate flavor comparable to flourless dark chocolate torte, and velvety mouthfeel. The fruited qualities tasted in the brew don't really come through in flavor, though there's a berry-like brightness. All in all a versatile brew, and great single origin espresso.
The Rio Juanambú is a tributary originating high up in the Cordilleras Central where several of the growing areas we are currently buying from are located. Buesaco, Taminango, Tablón de Gómez, and others, are a few of the localities where we are connecting with local coffee associations and buying coffees from their allied producers. We visited last Jul and cupped through a few hundred samples in order to make up the 285 bags of coffee that filled out our container. In total, we came up with 15 lots, this particular lot being a blend of coffees from 14 producers, lot sizes ranging from 11 kilos to 200 kilos on the large side. We generally organize the selections from these trips by location, flavor matrix, and of course producer if there's a coffee we feel needs to shine on it's own and is sizable enough to where this makes sense. In this case, we felt these 14 coffees complimented each other as a whole, and the final lot came out to 18 bags, which means more people get to try it. As for the farm statistics, we visited several (a few from this blend), and most are planted in a mix of Caturra, Variedad Colombia, and you also see Typica trees peppered throughout. This area is in close proximity to the equator and it's normal to see coffee grown at very high altitudes (2000 - 2100 meters above sea level). This is a wet-processed coffee, most farmers using old style hand-cranked or small machine-ran de-pulpers, fermenting and washing in the same tank, and then drying out on raised, covered beds.
The dry fragrance of Juanambú has a butter toffee nut smell to it, City+ roasts offer caramel/toffee overtones, with roasted almond and black walnut smells underneath. The wet aroma of these lighter roasts is like cinnamon rolls with white icing, a smell of pastry beads cooked with brown sugar and raisin. Raw sugar sweetness dominates the brewed coffee in this lighter roast application, which is about the lightest treatment I would give this coffee. It produces a clean sweet cup, moderate body, surprisingly vibrant acidic impressions, and a light cinnamon hint accents deeper chocolate tones that come into focus in the aftertaste. This bittersweetness becomes more of a focal point at Full City roast level, a bittersweetness reaching it's apex, and layers of rich chocolatey flavors are presented. Chocolate taffy, high % cacao bar, and fine Dutch drinking cocoa come through at Full City, and this is a roast level that furnishes a dense chocolate-focused espresso shot too. A real crowd-pleasing bittersweet cup at a fairly wide range of roasts.
This blend of coffee from Nariño 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 Department of Nariño lies in southwestern Colombia, hugging both the Pacific Ocean and Ecuadorian border. Unlike most other growing areas in Colombia who have two harvests each year, Nariño generally has one single "main" harvest. The middle harvest, or "mitaca", is very very small, and does not generally produce exportable volumes. The veredas we are buying from are mostly in the northern part of the region and include La Union, Beusaco, Taminango, and more. Nariño is in close proximity to the equator and it's normal to see coffee grown at very high altitudes (2000 - 2100 meters above sea level). 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.
The dry fragrance has more than it's share of raw sugar sweetness all the way up to Full City (and probably beyond), candied in middle roasts, I noted smells of candy corn, and honey sticks in the ground coffee. The wet crust has a sweet quality that's like warm cookies baked with butterscotch chips, a sugary sweetness that verges on floral. There's persistent sweetness in the hot brewed cup, going from unrefined to pectin sugar flavors as you progress through the coffee. A flavor of cooked fruit and sweet baked goods comes to mind as the cup cools, and I find flavor parity with raisin bread pudding - raisiny sweetness, almond, and sweet spongy cake. Full City sees an increase in dark chocolate tones as you might expect, and body is near the weight of fruit juice. A wonderful brewed coffee at a wide range of roasts, and for those who desire a Colombian espresso option, expect chocolate syrup and berry tones at Full City roast level, viscous mouthfeel, and cocoa bittersweetness that endures.
Urrao is unique for many reasons, one being the average altitude of this mountain town. The Valley of Penderisco where Urrao lies in northern Antioquia sits at 1800 - 1850 meters, this valley floor being higher than some of the mountain peaks in other areas we buy. Many of the farms we're buying from in the region top out at 2100 meters, healthy Caturra plantings abound. This area is quite cold too, however the coffee farmers have benefited from an uptick of a couple of degrees C over the past decade, now a climate more suitable for coffee production. This lot from Don Giraldo is a first for us, a newer producer to the buying program we are part of in this region, the number of contributing farmers now upwards to 50. Most farms are less than 5 hectares of coffee, and planted in Caturra, Variedad Colombia, and a local heirloom of Caturra. The coffee is wet processed at home, depulped, fermented, and dried in raised solar dryers. Because of the cold weather, fermentation times are longer on average than many southern coffees we buy. This lends to more fruit-forward notes, and somewhat muted acidity. We enjoyed City+ and Full City roasts of Don Giraldo's coffee the most, where dark fruit notes are paired with bittersweetness, and body is dense and weighty.
Grinding the coffee gives a pleasant, if not accurate, preview of what to expect in a brewed cup. Molasses and other dark sugar sweetness dominate, with understated dried fruit and herbal notes accenting the ground coffee. The level of sweetness builds in the wet aroma, a creamy smell of brown sugar and chocolate milk, accents of banana bread coming up in the steam after breaking through the wetted crust. These fruit tones carry weight in the cup too, especially as you pass City+ roast level, which I think is a roast level minimum for this coffee (lighter and I found sweetness to be lacking). Fruited notes are on the subtle side when the coffee is hot, but a bittersweet core flavor matrix is anything but. At City+ the bittersweetness isn't so chocolatey, but more like corn muffin with honey and a peach skin bittering. Once cooled down a bit, dried fruit notes come through but are not easily defined with the base bittersweetness more in focus, and a hazelnut flavor fills the aftertaste. Full City roasts build up layers of chocolate roast tone, like baking cocoa and high % cacao bar, and dark berry undertones add a layer of complexity. At 48 hours rest, cup characteristics of City+ and Full City roasts find harmony, and make for a nice brewed coffee. Full City and Full City+ roasts make a fantastic chocolate-toned espresso too.
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 village of El Sauce is located in San Ignacio District, Cajamarca, a region known for producing specialty grade coffee. The group in El Sauce 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!).
Light City roasts smell so sweet with honey and toffee smells, along with a subtle dry fruit accents of green apple and golden raisin. The wet aromatics have a candied sweetness that's like Kraft caramels, that subtle apple note sensed in dry fragrance coming through much clearer, and together, reminiscent of caramel apple. Light roasts have a surprising juiciness in the cup, big body apparent even at City roast level. There's a pistachio and chocolate flavor when the coffee is hot, which fades away a bit as the cup cools, moving into an apple flavor that's more like stewed fruit than dried. I didn't think I was going to like my Full City roast as the coffee smelled dark to the point of ashy, but was surprised by a high level of sweetness. When hot, it's all about bittersweetness, but as the coffee cools, a dark fruited side adds subtle highlights in the finish. El Sauce is a killer espresso as well, Full City roasts weighing heavy on the palate, a coating effect that leaves intense chocolate tones to linger.