Sourcing Coffee in Latin America: Colombia
Over the last few months we have travelled to Colombia, Guatemala and Costa Rica sourcing unique micro-lot coffees and getting to know the people who produce them. These trips have provided great insight into what goes on at the farm level before the coffee lands in the US. Look for these coffees to show up on the bar, online and in the bag over the next couple of months.
Our first sourcing trip this season was to Colombia. In Colombia we visited with La Palma y El Tucan, a project, farm and processing mill in the department of Cundinamarca. Cundinamarca is not generally known to be a big producer of coffees these days. It is closer to Bogotá than any of the better known growing regions making the land more expensive to farm. Pretty much all of the coffee growers in this region are 65 years old or older as the younger generation doesn't see the value in producing a crop usually seen as a commodity. In Colombia, coffee sold as a commodity doesn’t command high enough prices to allow the producers to profit from the production most years. Therefore the younger generation in this area has abandoned this life for work in the city. La Palma y El Tucan is changing this model in an attempt to keep coffee growing alive in their area. They are paying fair prices for the farmers crops and also processing them at their own mill. They are producing some very outstanding coffees (90+ SCAA ratings, it is very rare that a coffee scores above 90) and are bringing renewed hope and interest in coffee growing to their surrounding community.
At La Palma y El Tucan we were lucky to meet many of their producing partners and we also experienced how the differences in green coffee fermentation times and processes affect the final cup. Fermentation is one process of removing slimy mucilage from a coffee seed before drying. This process, if performed correctly, can result in greater acidity, explosive fruit notes and enhanced body in a coffee. If performed incorrectly it can result in vinegary or oniony tastes in the cup. We were lucky enough to taste some great examples of exquisitely produced and processed coffees and we came home with two, exceptional, soon to be released, lots.
After long days of cupping coffees and visiting farms we drank a good bit of Poker beer and managed not to lose our hearing or vision while playing and getting beat in some thrilling games of Tejo(Colombian farmers are skilled at and passionate about their Tejo).
We are very excited to see what La Palma y El Tucan have in store for the future and look forward to strengthening our direct relationship with this new, game-changing project.
Next Post: Scoring great coffee in Guatemala