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Colombia Supremo 13353 Antioquia
Country: Colombia Grade: (Excelso EP) Region: Antioquia Mark: Pooled lot
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: December 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Cattura and Typica (unconfirmed)
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: Here's one of those cases where a fairly generic "Specialty Coffee" offering turns out to be pretty dang good. In these cases, I am always put into a bit of a quandry; we're all about micro-lots and top-tier coffees. What do I do when I find nice cup character from a big 320 bag, full-shipping-container lot that most and Joe could phone up the broker and buy? Well, I get off my high horse and offer it, at a correspondingly good price. I still feel odd. I can't verify that the farmer was paid well, I don't even know what general parts of Antioquia this comes from. (Nice Colombias used to be called MAMs, which stood for this massive triangle of coffee-growing land from Medellin to Antioquia to Manizales, MAM). Anyway, I really feel this cup is what good lots pooled from many small farms used to taste like, a classic Colombia flavor marked by pleasantly bittersweetness, intensity and balance. The dry fragrance has a perfect balance of fruited tones masked by sweet caramel and chocolate roast notes. It has good intensity to these aromatics, with a floral scent from the wet grounds, sweet vanilla wafer cookies, strawberry, and watermelon. The cup flavors are more bittersweet than the aroma lets on ... with Brazil nut and macademia tones, and fruited raisin notes behind the tangy, pleasantly bittering effect. The cup seems juicy overall. The cup is intense in this way, with an almost Sumatra-like quality, and there's a pungency here too, a bit clove and pepper. I roasted some samples fairly light and felt that the resulting roasty cup flavors I tasted corresponded to a darker roasted coffee, with the benefit of having the fruited tones undiminished by a darker roast treatment. So I recommend a relatively light roast here, although the FC cups were tasty too, and this coffee can take a wide range of roasts. In all this is the kind of balance that is a classic quality of Colombia pooled lots from the past, but I don't find often in these combined Specialty offerings.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity/ Cl;assic Colombia bittersweetness and solid balance. colombia supremo review 
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City. The light roasts taste darker than you might expect.
Score (Max. 100) 86.7 Compare to: Classic Colombia cup of yore…

Colombia MC Decaf - Huila Pitalito
Country: Colombia Grade: Excelso Region: Pitalito Region, South Huila Mark: Tres Lunas
Processing: Wet Processed, then MC decaf. Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: Tres Lunas is a mark from the Pitalito area of Huila. 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 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 extraordinarily lively and bright, reminding me of the really nice Yirgacheffe decafs; distinct, bold lemony brightness (at the City+ stage, specifically). In fact, it is so bright that some might want to take this to FC roast to tone down this piquant brightness. The aftertaste has a well defined, cleanly-disappearing citrus sweetness. The body is fairly light, which is not at all a negative because it suits the brisk nature of this cup.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium Intensity /Very bright lemon citrus notes  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ for the cup I describe, FC if you want to tone down the brightness a bit
Score (Max. 100) 86.6 Compare to: This Huila cups like a Huila: it seems to have forgotten that it was sent to Germany and decaffeinated.

Colombia Choco - El Carmen del Atrato
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: El Carmen, Choco Department Mark: El Carmen del Atrato town
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 17-18+ Screen Varietal: Caturra, Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: This micro-lot is unique in many ways (including the excellent cup quality!) It is the only coffee I have ever heard of from the department (state) of Choco in Colombia. Choco is adjacent to the well-known coffee-producing department of Antioquia, and is far north, actually sharing a border of nearly impassible jungle with Panama. It is the far eastern boundry toward Antiquia where El Carmen is situated, and that brings us to another unique factor; this is the only Colombia I have known that is from the Pacific side of the western mountain range, the Cordillera Occidental. So this farmer group (it is a coop) produces very little coffee under different weather conditions than most other Colombia coffees. They also grow coffee at very high altitudes in dramatically vertical terrain ranging from 1300 to 1600 meters. The coffee has qualities mildly reminicent of Kenya in terms of winey fruited notes. I cup tested this at roasts between City+ and FC+ and really can't tell you which roast level I prefer: I liked them all! Aromatics is a strong suit here; the dry fragrance has that sweet raisiny character with plum-like fruit and something I can best describe as "berries in granola". Wet aroma adds to this a floral tea note, and a refined honey sweetness. The cup, while having traces of East African fruit and black currant, isn't nearly so aggressive. Instead it is quite lush and rounded. The finish is honey-like in sweetness, balanced, and clean. For me, this is a coffee that can be termed "elegant", especially in the aftertaste, although I think some would not find raisins and granola a good fit for that descriptor!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.7
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.3
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.7
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / balance, fruits, finish  
add 50 50 Roast: Takes a wide range of roasts from City+ to Full City to Full City+.
Score (Max. 100) 87.6 Compare to: We have had Huila coffees like this before, but they had more pronounced acidity. But Choco is a completely different terrain and climate.

Colombia Supremo 15943
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Unknown! Mark: 15943
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: August 2007 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: What should I do when I get a sample of a generic "Specialty grade" coffee, the kind I never buy, and it is actually good? I mean, really good! I buy coffees that rate over 85 … and that is just the absolute minimum requirement. It also has to have a real positive "origin character" to the cup, something that represents the place it is from in an extraordinary way. I also have to like it; I can't offer a coffee I think is unattractive (I am not that good of a "salesman"). So here before me is a totally generic Supremo grade coffee, I don't even know the general region it is from. Hell, I don't even know if it is from the North or the South! This happened last year with an Excelso grade coffee. And I must admit, whenever I see "Supremo" offered it just seems right to spell the name wrong, i.e. Columbia. I have seen it so many times on the menus of roasters who offer bulk-lot coffees. Now I am not saying this has crazy character on the level of CoE lots, and Gesha coffees and Kenya Auction Lots, just that it is a really nice "crowd-pleaser" with the operative terms "sweet" being applicable at all stages. The point here is the cup, and it is very sweetly fruited. Dry fragrance has plum and grape jelly sweetness to it, turning to malt syrup when you add the hot water. There's a spicy zest in there too, peppery and piquant. The cup flavors are again, sweet, rounded, fruity, with bit of stone fruit (plum that is) "pulpyness" in the finish. It is not that acidic, but has a soft, ripe, pleasing purple grape flavor, perhaps headed toward a winey Kenya-esque quality. Anyway, here it is, plain old Columbia ...er, I mean Colombia Supremo; just a name and a lot number, and a recommendation from me. Following my "modus operandi", that cupping rules supreme, that I don't know what the coffee is until after I taste it, until I flip over the name card at the cupping table, well sometimes it leads you to unexpected places. And quality is wherever you find it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.2
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.6
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Dark sweetness, fruits, and great body  
add 50 50 Roast: My sample roasts were between C+ and FC. You can go darker, of course, but trace floral aspects are lost.
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but I really don't now where the heck it is from! A very nice "crowd pleasing coffee".

Colombia Cup of Excellence - El Caucho
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: Pitalito, Huila Mark: 2007 Cup of Excellence Lot 11
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: May 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: El Caucho is a small farm in the Pitalito area of Huila. The owner, Reinaldo Vargas Suárez, is the sole year-round employee farming his 1 hectare of coffee, and he hires 7 others to help during the harvest. The farm is at 1330 meters altitude, and planted entirely in Caturra cultivar. The international jury scored this coffee 87.8, just missing the top 10, but for me, this lot and the #15 were really exceptional. Sure, I liked the #1 too, but other than that, the top 10 was hit-or-miss. This is my experience with CoE cupping, and it is entirely appropriate that the selection process identifies 30 great lots of coffee, while the specific ranking of those is a lot more subjective. But, as opposed to the #1 which we would have to sell at $25 a lb. here is my own personal 2nd place coffee at a fraction of the price: who says buying quality can't be a good value too. In cupping all the lots, this one immeditately distiguished itself for its unusual sweetness, slightly rustic in a way, but in no way "dirty." The dry fragrance of this coffee is very sweet, caramelly, but also has hints of the complexity to come later. There's a pleasantly bittersweet, agresssive note here. The aromatics are well fruited, with a little cherry, and peach ... but again, a very complex nose. For me, the cup flavors distinguish this from the other Cup of Excellence lots in both character and intensity. This isn't simply a clean, sweet coffee. It has dimension, with bittersweet finish, fleshy fruit notes (apricot, mango, peach) as well as Papaya. Each time I cupped it, an image of a different fruit came to mind, which for me indicates complexity (or perhaps you could call in multiple personalities!). There's a berry tea / floral note, with orange rind traces (perhaps a hint at the Caturra variety, noted for its citric traces). The body is creamy, much more velvety than other Huila lots. The finish is a bit crisp and tannic, drying, tight, and well-defined, with a trace of fresh tobacco. It's odd to have a Huila coffee with this sweetness, body, complexity, and that crisp, edgy twist in the cup; tea, tobacco, bittersweets. Because we went to great lengths to have this lot emptied from it's jute bags, vacuum-packaged and boxed in Colombia, it survived the ocean voyage in fantastic shape, having all the freshness and intensity that the sample submitted to Cup of Excellence possessed. Loss of cup quality due to poor handling in transit can really add up with these top tier coffees, so we keep exploring ways to have them arrive here in pristine condition...
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9.2
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity /unique sweetness and complexity  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: This Huila cups a bit out of character, perhaps like a Cauca coffee, with intense brightness and complexity.

Colombia Huila San Augustin Micro-lot
Country: Colombia Grade: (Excelso EP) Region: San Augustin, Huila Mark: FNC San Augustin small lots
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: June 2007 Arrival Appearance: .2 d/300gr, 15-17 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: San Augustin is know for several things: the fantastic Idolos, ruins dating to 3000 B.C.. And then there are bandits and guerillas still active in the surrounding areas (although the town of San Augustin itself is quite placid). And finally there is the remarkable coffee grown in the area. This lot is from combined smallholder farms and has a distinction from our other Huila coffees of late: it is incredibly balanced. We have found Huila coffees with more striking acidity (and I love a good, bright, citric accent in the cup). And usually I look to coffees from the Cauca valley for more tenor-to-bass toned cups. But here is a Huila with fat, rounded body, and moderate acidity. The dry fragrance has a strong milk chocolate scent with almond undertones. There are suggestions of almond in the wet aromatics, as well as the cup flavors. Remarkably balanced between these nutty and chocolate tones, there is a long aftertaste with fruited (pear, papaya) secondary flavors. It's the rounded body that makes the cup so alluring and balanced. It's so sweet, sweetly fruited, and balanced. I would rank this as a top "crowd-pleaser" coffee, which is not to say it lacks character, or is middle-of-the-road in any way. It has the body that people respond to, and avoids the acidity that can be controversial for some folks- it's drinkin' coffee! This lot reminds me of how cup quality can be ruined at any point too; it arrived with a sister lot that was awful, totally baggy tasting. How can one lot come in shimmering and beautiful, and the other tired and baggy tasting. I dunno.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /incredible balance, great body, moderate acidity, fruits  
add 50 50 Roast: City+, Full City
Score (Max. 100) 88.3 Compare to: This Huila cups a bit more like the Cauca/Popayan coffees. Great depth of character.

Colombian Nariño -Reserva Del Patron
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Nariño, SW Colombia Mark: Reserva del Patron
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: June 2007 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Reserva Del Patron is a selection of Supremo coffee from the "heart of the harvest" in the Narino region. What does that mean? It means the mill selects for both bean size (Supremo is the largest screen, 17-18/64ths) and from lots that are neither the earliest to arrive at the mill (lower grown, likely) or the tail ends of the harvest. Reserva Del Patron is a mill mark, which means that certain areas of certain top smallholder farms are harvested to comprise this coffee. It is a limited production, because the number of contributing micro-farms is small. But also it is limited because Starbucks buys so much coffee from the Narino region for their featured Narino offering. It has changed the way coffee is produced there, but luckily it has not changed the Narino del Abuelo. This is a classic cup, remarkably balanced in flavor attributes and body. It is also balanced in the sense that bittersweet character is in proportion to brightness/acidity, and fruited notes are moderate. This coffee has really nice chocolate flavors that are mild (milk chocolate) in the lighter roast range and turn to bittersweet, potent chocolate at Full City+. FC+ roast, just a snap into 2nd crack, had the most compelling cup, although this coffee works on a wide range of roasts. FC+ has a strong chocolate tang from dry fragrance and wet aroma, through the cup flavors and way into the aftertaste. I get aromatic suggestions of pungent, peppery spice and dark brown bread baking. There are dry fruit (raisin, plum) and balck walnut paired with the dominate chocolate bittersweet in the cup flavors, and a bit of walnut skins with clean tobacco flavor lurking in the aftertaste. I am really impressed with the body, more viscuous and oily than I remember with other Colombians, and makes me think that those who love Indonesian coffees might find the weight of this on their palate quite nice.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balance  
Add 50 50.0 Roast: Full City to FC+ (my favorite), although this coffee takes a wide latitude of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Very balanced cup has hints of both Cauca and some Bucaramanga coffees from the North ... not like other acidic Narino coffees I have cupped.

Colombian Organic Nariño - San Lorenzo
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Grade Region: San Lorenzo, Nariño Mark: San Lorenzo, Organic
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Variedad Colombia
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.4 Notes: San Lorenzo is located in the coffee growing district of Nariño in the Southern Colombian Andean volcanic mountains. There 21 farms in three villages in Narino that contribute to the coffee. The towns of San Clemente, San Isidro and San Vicente are located in the highest mountains of the "Colombian Nest" or "Macizo Colombiano" between 1,600 and 2,300 meters high, enjoying of the most important water sources and of the indulgence of the Andean volcanic soil. This is actually a totally organic coffee, which, considering the ultra-celan and delicate cup character, is remarable to me. Colombia has a large problem with the Broca, a insect that bores into the coffee cherry and seed: these stricken seeds produce off notes in the cup. To produce a coffee with no sign of Broca damage, organically, requires great care. Anyway, the varietials are about 60% Caturra and 40% Variedad Colombia, and their pergamino is sun-dried whenever weather permits. This cup has the special Nariño brightness in the cup: it surprised me in the blind cupping because I thought, because of the acidity, it was a Costa Rican! The traditional Caturra varietal also contributes to the well-defined, articulate citrus in the cup, with spice and floral sensations in the aromatics and finish. This is a wonderfully bright cup, and a textbook "New World", the type that scores so well in competitions. (My experience is this type of very clean cup qith citric accents and delicate acidity is very popular with the Japanese judges). While the aroma is sweetly floral, the cup itself has something I would describe as "sugar cane juice", with honey-lemon accents. The finish is a bit minty, adding to the brisk, clean, refreshing character of the cup. It's a prototypical coffee, very refined, dare I say "elegant". It's not going to scream "quality" at your palate, it will require you to meditate a bit on it's balance of sweetness, floral and citric notes, and other nuances. For all this, I recommend restraining the roasty notes by keeping it at City to FC+, our of the domain of 2nd Crack. Cupper's Correction of 1.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.4
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9.0
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Roast: City; this has a mild roasty character even when it is roasted to a medium (City) roast, through first crack completely until the surface color and texture of the coffee has an even "complexion", but not into 2nd crack at all.
add 50 50.0 Compare to: Costa Rican in it's citrusy brightness (acidity), but complex like the best small farm Colombians.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9

Colombia Tolima Planadas - El Jordan
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Planadas town, Tolima state. Mark: El Jordan,
APCEJOR co-op, Virmax
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: December 2006 Arrival Appearance: .8 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.7 Notes: This coffee is high grown by the three hundred members of a coffee grower association from Planadas, in the Colombia department of Tolima. The dry fragrance had fruited, appley character, which came through in the wet aromatics, and in the cup. I was reminded of apple pie: sweetness, fruit, spice (cinnamon). The acidity is bright, partly floral, but (again with the apple theme), like crisp green apple at the light City roast stage. The cup is both lively in the bright, top-end notes, but balances it out with dense body, and intensity from initial sip through long aftertaste. It's a weighty, solid cup profile, and the caramel sweetness pervades throughout. My light City roast has a strawberry and rubarb liveliness to the cup, there's even a minty (Yerba Buena) aspect. The lighter roasts are honeyed in the finish, and the darker roasts are more like dark brown sugar. After a few days of rest after roasting, my City+ roast had great balance and silky body. The fruit changed from apple to blackberry and raisin; very nice! This coffee seemed to show consistent character and quality at all roasts between C+ and FC+. It's a no-brainer in terms of roasting - air roast or drum, it just seems to come out with great cup quality. I didn't try a Vienna roast, but if it is in line with the other 4 test roasts, it would be fantastic too. A tip concerning preparation of this coffee: I was not as impressed with the cup one time we brewed it. It turns out, I was a bit shy on the grounds-to-water ratio. If you measure grounds in scoops or by weight, error on the side of greater brew strength.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.7
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Bright, fruited, sweet, dense cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City+ - you can't go wrong anywhere along the line.
Score (Max. 100) 87.1 Compare to: Balanced, bold Colombia.

Colombia Cup of Excellence #3 - El Placer
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: Planadas, Tolima Mark: El Placer, 3rd place Colombia Cup of Excellence
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: January 2007 Arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Pure Caturra cultivar
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: El Placer means "The Pleasure", and this coffee certainly is that. It is from the Tolima region, near the town of Planadas, and is the property of Cesar Julio Muñoz Calderon. The farm is planted in pure Caturra varietal, and is at 1550 meters altitude. The coffee was 3rd place in the second harvest Colombia Cup of Excellence 2006, winning one of the "Presidents Award" for coffee scoring over 90 points. In this case, the International Jury went well over with an average of 92.38. And it is a fitting reward for the hard work of the Calderon family; a quote from Cesar, "I bought this farm 11 years ago, and at that time, it only had 15 coffee trees older than 7 years. I started growing new trees and also renewing the old ones, and my farm currently has 2500 trees. All the members of my family: Wife, and 4 children, have worked in the farm all this time. In the harvesting time I hire temporary workers. I also grow plantains, yuca and other vegetables for the consumption of the family." We put together a buying group for this lot with my friends and George Howell's Terroir and Stumptown Roasters. To circumvent recent shipping problens from Colombia that can result in slight damage to flavor (i.e. the coffee container gets stuck in a humid port city), we had these coffees all vacuum packaged and boxed in 5 kgs, then we rebagged them upon arrival here. It was an expensive operation but it really worked: the coffee arrived beautifully fresh and green. For me, this cup was extremely elegant, sweet and nuanced. The dry fragrance from the ground coffee has milk chocolate and bittersweet tones, and at the City + roast, a sweet raisiny fruitiness. The aromatics have allspice and sweet gingerbread notes, and a bit of passionfruit. In the cup, the chocolate aromatics become caramel flavors, and tea-like jasmine notes emerge. Here (again) the lighter City+ roast shows more effervesence, more liveliness, than the Full City roast. Both have a very elegent, silky body but the light roast is more dynamic with a higher tonal range, and traces of sweet lemon, apricot, cherry, honey. I don't think this is the kind of cup that screams at you with outrageous flavors, but it is approachable, and will charm you over time.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.8
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 9
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Mild-Medium intensity / Bright, nuanced cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ clearly has more of the top end, bright flavors.
Score (Max. 100) 89.8 Compare to: Elegant, refined, bright Colombia; similar to Huila and Narino

Colombia Cup of Excellence #12 - El Descanso -sold out!
Country: Colombia Grade: Estate Region: La Plata town, Huila department Mark: El Descanso, 12th place Colombia Cup of Excellence
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: January 2007 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 100% Caturra
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.8 Notes: Jesus Orlando Lopez inherited El Descanso from his father, and by combining with his brothers part of the farm, ended up with 8 hectares. That is actually a big farm in Colombia, and might contradict your preconceptions of Colombia coffee as a large coffee producer, and hence comrised of large farms. 8 Hectares is 19 acres, not small, but also not a "Hacienda" by any stretch. Descanso means "rest", perhaps an ironic name for a coffee farm that requires so much labor, and it is in the Huila district at a whopping 1733 meters altitude (nearly 5700 feet). It is pure Caturra cultivar planted here, which perhaps explains some of the lovely citrus notes I get in the cup. As with out other CoE lot, we had this lot vacuum packaged and boxed in 5 kgs, then we rebagged them upon arrival here. The reason, instead of shipping them in regular burlap, is that Colombia is experiencing port problems, which can result in a lot being "stuck" for a couple weeks in a humid climate: not good for the cup quality! Anyway, the lot arrived in beautiful condition. But back to the beginning: the dry grounds have a sweet chocolate aromatic, but there are remarkable fruited notes lurking behind it: plum, blackberry, and cherry blossom. The lighter City roast I tested had a great, tingly, champagne-like acidity, and strong floral aspect in the wet aroma and cup. A bit more roast (FC) and the coffee seemed exponentially more intense, but still laced with flowers and fruit. In the cup I saw a shift from fresh fruit, ripe orange and plum, to a more "plum wine" character as the cup cooled, and into the aftertaste. In fact, I am reminded of Kenya "wineyness" as I cup this, although not in the same proportions found in the powerhouse of East Africa. My FC roast features a body is heavy, similar to some coffees from the Cauca region of Colombia, and viscous. Dark fruit lace the finish: blackberry, dark plum, raisin sweetness.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.9
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.6
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 9
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 2 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity /Complex, floral, sweet.  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City - see the review,
Score (Max. 100) 90.2 Compare to: Balanced, bold Colombia.

Colombia Cauca Organic - La Esperanza
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Cordillera Central, Valle Del Cauca, Trujillo Mark: La Esperanza, La Rochela Farm
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: November 2006 Arrival Appearance: .6 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: Caturra, Typica, Bourbon
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.6 Notes: La Rochela is a group of small farms outside the municipality of Trujillo in Valle Del Cauca department of Colombia. They produce several marks of coffee, but their organic certified lot is known as La Esperanza. (There are many, many farms called La Esperanza, meaning "The Hope", which is something I suppose you ened a lot of to farm coffee!) The coffee is grown between 1400 and 1650 meters, quite high, and milled at the La Rochela Beneficio, so they have total control of the process. This coffee is Cauca all the way; the right character for the Cauca appellation. We have mildly rustic chocolate in the fragrant dry grounds, with sweet, dark fruit and dry fruit as a backdrop; raisin, Italian dry black fig, and a syrupy sweetness. Even my light sample roast (City) has a dark intensity to it: pepper, tarry sweetness, dark chocolate, dark fruit. The cup is not as bright and acidic as Huila coffees, but rather it is thick and rounded, a deep tonal range of flavors. It has fruited sweetness but there is still momentary floral traces in the aftertaste. Plum predominates, but there is a black walnut finish, paired with a fairly thick, dense body. As mentioned, even lighter roasts had this brooding, pensive, dark character to them (Noir coffee?). But I found FC to be exceptional too, very syrupy. Darker than that and I felt the roast taste took over the cup too much.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.5
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 9
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.7
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.8
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium- Bold intensity / Darkly fruited cup  
add 50 50 Roast: City+ to Full City
Score (Max. 100) 87.2 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but more refined than the borderline fermenty Popayans of the old days.

Colombia Excelso 13556
Country: Colombia Grade: Excelso Region: Unknown! Mark: 13556
Processing: Wet Processed Crop: September 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16-17 Screen Varietal: Unknown
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.5 Notes: What should I do when I get a sample of a generic "Specialty grade" coffee, the kind I really never buy, and it is actually good? I mean really good! I buy coffees that rate over 85 … and that is just the absolute minimum requirement. It also has to have a real positive "origin character" to the cup, something that represents the place it is from in an extraordinary way. I also have to like it; I can't offer a coffee I think is unattractive (I am not that good of a "salesman"). So here before me is a totally generic Excelso grade coffee, I don't even know the general region it is from. Hell, I don't even know if it is from the North or the South! And it is great, really great. I will guess this: I think it is a Cauca coffee. It has that hefty-weighty body and flavor, with a dried plum fruit to it. The coffee is darkly sweet (like dark brown sugar), and has some black walnut to it ... but that body really gets me. It's huge, making the overall impression of this cup as bold as a Indonesian coffee that seems to hang around on your palate long after the coffee is gone. It seems so dense, so opaque. And it is the slightly darker roast, the Full City to FC+ where this cup reaches the intensity that makes it really happen: the C+ roast is really nice, and plum- raisin flavors predominate. But a little darker and the nut and chocolate come out. Anyway, here it is, Colombia Excelso 13556, just a name and a lot number, and a recommendation from me. Following my "modus operandi", that cupping rules supreme, that I don't know what the coffee is until after I taste it, until I flip over the name card at the cupping table, well sometimes it leads you to unexpected places. And quality is wherever you find it.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.3
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.7
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.8
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium-Bold intensity / Dark sweetness, fruits, and great body  
add 50 50 Roast: Full City to Full City +
Score (Max. 100) 86.5 Compare to: Cauca cup character, but I really don't now where the heck it is from!

Colombian Huila - Palestina Micro-region
Country: Colombia Grade: 16+ Screen Excelso Region: Huila, Palestina Micro-region Mark: Palestina Microregion, South Huila
Processing: Wet-Processed Crop: May 2006 Arrival Appearance: .4 d/300gr, 16+ Screen Varietal: Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3 Notes: Some introductory comments are needed: A long time ago some chump decided that better coffee came from larger coffee beans. Colombia was in the audience that night, took it all in, and developed a system of pooling all coffees together in lots based on bean size. Thus we came up with Supremo and Excelso in the better grades of Colombian (there are also UGQ and FAQ which are seductive acronyms for Usual Good Quality and Fair Average Quality, but those don't concern us here). Being a coffee behemoth and slow to change, Colombia has been reticent to change the system that they impose on farmers, exporters, and roasters until recently, although it makes no sense. Bigger coffee seeds from bigger coffee cherries don't mean better flavor, as much as a bigger cup of coffee tastes better (the 7-Eleven logic?) What does make coffee quality improve? Besides good standards of farming and preparation, it is the unique region, the soil, the altitude, the weather, and the care the farm puts into the plant. So as a new direction, one that makes sense for Colombia, we have these new micro-regional lots. (Estate coffees rarely make sense in Colombia because each farm is too small to produce a lot that can be milled distinct, and shipped separately). So we could call these "micro-pooled" lots. Using cupping techniques (mostly with a mobile cupping lab) small regions are identified that have special cup character. It might be centered around a town, it might be one particular hill or valley. In this case, we are referring to the small South Huila municipality of Palestina, settled by Palestine immigrants in the 19th c., and in the region of Pitalito, and San Augustin. With this coffee preparation, size is ignored to a greater degree, but the coffee is carefully prepared to remove defective seeds. Palestina is centered around the town of the same name (not sure of the history of this unique name, biblical or cultural?) This cup has a dynamic, sparkling brightness in the aromatics and the cup flavors. The dry fragrance has a sweet caramelly character, as does the wet aromatics. The cup flavors are apple butter (you know, the stuff you spread on toast), with almond, and the previously mentioned caramelly sweetness. As the cup cools, it becomes very full and round and intense. I would call it almost Kenya-like in intensity, practically a whole breakfast in a cup!
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.6
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.8
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.8
Body - Mouthfeel (1-5) 3.2
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.6
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / fruited and nutty flavor, strong lively brightness
add 50 50 Roast: City roast preserves the brighter fruits
Score (Max. 100) 86.0 Compare to: A classic microregional Southern Huila cup.

Colombian Nariño -Reserva Del Patron
Country: Colombia Grade: Supremo Region: Nariño, SW Colombia Mark: Reserva del Patron
Processing: Wet-processed Crop: August 2006 arrival Appearance: 0 d/300gr, 17-18 Screen Varietal: 60% Caturra, 40% Typica
Dry Fragrance (1-5) 3.3 Notes: Reserva Del Patron is a selection of Supremo coffee from the "heart of the harvest" in the Narino region. What does that mean? It means the mill selects for both bean size (Supremo is the largest screen, 17-18/64ths) and from lots that are neither the earliest to arrive at the mill (lower grown, likely) or the tail ends of the harvest. Reserva Del Patron is a mill mark, which means that certain areas of certain top smallholder farms are harvested to comprise this coffee. It is a limited production, because the number of contributing micro-farms is small. But also it is limited because Starbucks buys so much coffee from the Narino region for their featured Narino offering. It has changed the way coffee is produced there, but luckily it has not changed the Narino del Abuelo. This is a classic cup, remarkably balanced in flavor attributes and body. It is also balanced in the sense that bittersweet character is in proportion to brightness/acidity, and fruited notes are moderate. This coffee has really nice chocolate flavors that are mild (milk chocolate) in the lighter roast range and turn to bittersweet, potent chocolate at Full City+. FC+ roast, just a snap into 2nd crack, had the most compelling cup, although this coffee works on a wide range of roasts. FC+ has a strong chocolate tang from dry fragrance and wet aroma, through the cup flavors and way into the aftertaste. I get aromatic suggestions of pungent, peppery spice and dark brown bread baking. There are dry fruit (raisin, plum) and balck walnut paired with the dominate chocolate bittersweet in the cup flavors, and a bit of walnut skins with clean tobacco flavor lurking in the aftertaste. I am really impressed with the body, more viscuous and oily than I remember with other Colombians, and makes me think that those who love Indonesian coffees might find the weight of this on their palate quite nice.
Wet Aroma (1-5) 3.5
Brightness - Acidity (1-10) 8.4
Flavor - Depth (1-10) 8.4
Body - Movement (1-5) 3.9
Finish - Aftertaste (1-10) 8.4
Cupper's Correction (1-5) 1.0 Intensity/Prime Attribute: Medium intensity / Balance  
Add 50 50.0 Roast: Full City to FC+ (my favorite), although this coffee takes a wide latitude of roasts.
Score (Max. 100) 86.9 Compare to: Very balanced cup has hints of both Cauca and some Bucaramanga coffees from the North ... not like other acidic Narino coffees I have cupped.

Congo 

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