So we wanted to tell you a bit more about our Primavera edition and how we thought it out. To be honest, we only recently started to do blends. As some of you might now, blends tend to be made out of very different coffees and are usually structured in order to make a terrible and cheap coffee drinkable by mixing it with another one that is not so bad. For example, Italian espresso is usually a blend of low grade robustas (think rubber meets dry wood) from Vietnam, that usually go for about half the value of standard Colombian coffees, with some sweeter and brighter coffee from either Africa, Central America or Colombia. So basically blends are done primarily to make cheap coffee taste better.
This said, specialty roasters have also done blends since the beginning (which is not all that long ago), and although the price reduction aspect is still part of the decision in some cases, quality has started to lead the discussion. Now many roasters are trying to blend different lots in order to get a result that they cannot have with one origin. Specially for espresso, many roasters try to use different origins with different profiles and characteristics, trying to build a final drink that has the best of all words. A classic example is blending a Brazilian coffee that has a lot of cocoa notes and a heavy body, with an African or Colombian that ads sweetness and brightness.
Our coffees are normally from one specific farm or from a specific region and group of growers. For example, Lomaverde is from our main farm, in Santa Barbara, near Medellin. La Plata comes from a municipality in the state of Huila, where we work with a group of around 40 growers. Their best lots are selected for our edition and used one at a time for this, trying always to keep a very consistent a profile of green tea, panela and cocoa.
Primavera is a bit different. Here we have focused only on three growers that have one important thing in common: they grow a rare variety locally called Caturra Chiroso. This varietal is probably a genetic regression (that occurred naturally) of Caturra, a more common variety grown extensively in Colombia which is itself a natural mutation from Bourbon, an older varietal. Caturra Chiroso has a lot of the positive aspects of Caturra (when its grown at high altitudes), but has some differences in how the bean looks (its more enlogated) and in its cup profile, with a touch of flowers more common in Ethiopian coffees than Colombian. We have only found this varietal in Urrao, a municipality of Antioquia that is a bit out of the beaten track, which means that the new genetically modified varietals have not been pushed there so thoroughly as in other parts of the state.
These three growers also have in common a particular practice during processing. Although we will touch on this subject with more detail in another blog, coffee is picked as a cherry from a tree, and has to be de-pulped, fermented, washed and dries before in heads out of the farms. These three growers ferment coffee for a bit longer than normal, mixing up to three days picking, while most growers ferment coffee only the bare minimum (12-18 hours) before washing. This process results in a deeper fruit and sweet profile, which together with the touch of Jazmin that comes from the varietal, makes for a pretty unique cup.
So, without further ado, we present the producers behind Primavera!
John Alexander Bermúdez
John is 35 years old and single handedly manages the farm La Estrella, located in the sub municipality of Cartagena in Urrao. The altitude at his farm ranges from 1,900 to 2,050 meters above sea level and consists of two different parcels 10 minutes’ walk from his house. Apart from his wife and two daughters, John looks out for his mother and three sisters after their father passed away a while back. In what was probably the most emotional part of our first visit, John explained how he took the first money he received as a premium for quality to his father´s grave, and explained to him how their years of hard work at the farm had finally payed off and he would be able to take better care of the entire family.
Jose Arcadio Caro and Marbe Luz Bermudez
This is probably one of our favorite couples in coffee, and one of the most beautiful farms in our allied producer project. Jose and Marbe Luz have been pioneers in specialty for our estate of Antioquia. Back in 2013 they were the first Antioquians to reach a top 10 spot in our countries Cup of Excellence, which is probably the most competed green coffee competition in the world. We purchased that lot and have built a strong relationship with them ever since. They have received twice the local market price for coffee for 3 harvests now, and this has help them change considerably the way the look into the future. José was able to have an expensive eye surgery and they have investing in their farms to improve their small plantation and processing equipment.
Don Eduardo has a tiny little farm tucked into the valley of San Carlos, in Urrao. This beautiful parcel is sprinkled with plantain trees that he sells as a supplement to his income from coffee. He is a father and a survivor. He had to start his life from scratch after illegal armed groups forced him out of his land and threatened to murder him and his family back in the 90´s. With some help of his friends he was able to purchase a small parcel in a neighboring town, which now grows amazing coffee that we buy at consistent premiums over the market. With two daughters, Don Eduardo tells us that La Pradera (his farm) has brought him not only prosperity, but the sort of eternal happiness that comes with knowing that his two daughters will inherit a small business that will carry them through a life not as difficult as his own.