Jeremy and I just finished up a solid week of travel through Southern Colombia, visiting some familiar farms and ones with new potential. The diversity of cup profiles, complexity, and sweetness of Colombian coffee has had us spending a lot of time here (this is my 4th visit in 12 months). The visits have paid off undoubtedly, especially in Andino where producers have seen our faces 2-3 times, and are beginning to trust that we will be around buying their coffee for many years to come. In the short 18 months we have worked with Andino, we have seen the number spectacular lots diversity dramatically increase. It seems that every time we see a stellar lot come in from a farmer we have yet to visit, he is a neighbor and a friend of a farmer we know and have been paying premiums to in the past harvest. At this point, we have visited some 25+ farms in the hills around Bruselas and it seems a good chunk of these farms are all grouped around the Alto de Santa Cruz, a small town of 15 houses running along the ridge of the mountains.
We tasted the milled lots from the 1st part of the harvest that are on the water and headed to San Francisco, and they were nothing short of stunning: a cornucopia of ripe peach, floral apricot, juicy watermelon, tangerine, malty sweetness, and impeccable structure. I could drink this coffee everyday forever and feel completely satisfied. Here are a few photos from some of the farms we visited this time around.
We also spent a couple days in San Agustin, just 10km or so northwest of Bruselas. We checked in with our friend Luis Alejandro Ortega at La Cabana and were smitten, as usual, by his eagerness and continued drive to reinvent his farming practice. We spent a couple hours walking around the farm and the sight was breathtaking: with no sign of Roja (coffee leaf rust) Ortega’s Caturra shined a brilliant healthy green, heavy with cherry on the verge of ripening. Last year, Ortega rebuilt his entire beneficio/wet mill and in the coming months he is planning to do the same to his parabolic drying beds. This new system will include some shade to protect the parchment from being damaged by heavy heat and direct sunlight in the initial days of drying. We finished our visit with Ortega in his home, brewing up some of his coffee that we had brought down from SF, and checking out his new house (funded by the premium paid on the la Cabana reserve lot from last harvest). Ortega’s house was comfortable and as we close out the day, we admired the germinating bourbon and geisha seeds he had in his backyard and looked forward to tasting the lots in the many harvests to follow.
We spent the following day in Los Naranjos, La Argentina, La Llanada, Sevilla and El Tabor, neighborhoods that all surround San Agustin and are home to 100 farmers cultivating coffee at elevations stretching up to 2000masl. In the last couple months we tasted our first handful of lots from this area and I was eager to see the farms and meet the producers we had already purchased coffee from. With Ortega joining us for the day, we managed to visit 7 farms and were impressed with the diversity of varietals cultivated, processing, drying and farm management. The potential here is undeniable, and with our exporter having set up a cupping lab and warehouse in town to take deliveries, pay high premiums, and purchase according to cup quality; we are poised to begin sourcing more great coffee from this area. For a sneak peak, we will have a fly-crop lot of the San Agustin farmers on our menu in December; it will be small, so grab a bag when you see it.