When we visited Colombia back in December last year, we had intentionally made a trip to Antioquia, a coffee growing region which has been garnering much interest from specialty coffee buyers in recent years. After we touched down in Medellin, we caught up with our friends from Pergamino Coffee, Pedro Echavarria and Leonardo Henao. We met Pedro and Leo in Singapore when they were on an Asia trip organised by Mercanta to meet roasters/buyers in this region. Interestingly, we had previously corresponded with Leo through emails on sourcing for coffee in the country when he was working with another green coffee company couple of years back.
In our short stay in Antioquia, we visited the Urrao region. Leo and Pedro have been working with producers in the region through their allied producer program, to provide access to a market that was looking for excellence in cup quality and was willing to pay for it. We drove hours through long winding roads to get first hand on why this region is so perfect for growing coffees with peaks averaging 1800m even in the valley floor. In Urrao, we stayed with Leo who recently became a farmer himself (another blog entry for another time) and spent the next 2 days visiting several farms in the region. One of which belonged to Don Eduardo Vargas. Don Eduardo 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 90s. With some help of his friends he was able to purchase a small parcel in a neighboring town, which now grows amazing coffee that Pergamino Coffee buys at consistent premiums over the market. With two daughters, Don Eduardo shares 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. His farm is small, only 2.5 hectares. He grows mainly Caturra Chiroso and some Bourbon trees (about 10,000 trees) at an altitude of 2020 masl.
A photo posted by Nylon Coffee Roasters (@nyloncoffee) on Dec 1, 2015 at 6:05pm PST
We first cupped this coffee in the lab of Pergamino Coffee. We were intrigued by the shape of the beans, as they looked a little pointed. This coffee is of the Caturra Chiroso varietal, something we have never tasted before. The coffee immediately stood out on the table with its floral fragrance. We enjoyed its fruit tones and sugarcane type of sweetness. We asked Leo more about the history of this varietal. So based on his understanding, Carmen Cecilia Montoya of Finca Bella Vista (in Urrao as well) won the 2014 Colombia South COE and she made famous the varietal that had been so far completely unknown. She got the seeds from her father’s farm and the first Chiroso trees are from at least 20 years ago. From his agronomy background, he postulates that this Caturra Chiroso is a natural regression which means that it is a genetic expression in this generation from an old genetic parent. He also informed us that the World Coffee Research is conducting some DNA analysis on Chiroso, to see if it could be a Typica, or Bourbon or some others. We are eagerly awaiting for the results.
A photo posted by Nylon Coffee Roasters (@nyloncoffee) on Jul 8, 2016 at 3:44am PDT
When we received the coffee last month, our test roasts revealed heightened tropical fruit notes which we did not experience in our cupping at Pergamino. The taste reminded us of very ripe and fleshy fruits. This could be attributed to its fermentation style, which comprises of 3 days mixed fermentation. Most producers in this region combine multiple days’ harvests when fermenting. They add fresh water to slow down the fermentation process upon mixing in a next day’s harvest and the coffees are then washed on the final day. The cold water flowing high in the mountains also contribute to a natural slow fermentation process. Don Eduardo dries his coffee on parabolic raised beds, like most small producers in Colombia.
We decided to roll out Don Eduardo’s coffee as a single origin espresso as when we tasted it in the form of an espresso, the fruit acids and sweetness were amplified with just the right amount of balance. It also works beautifully in a milk-based coffee.
In the cup, we get tropical fruits aroma followed by stonefruit, cherries-like acidity. The sweetness is like very ripe and fleshy fruits. Caramel and milk chocolate comes in the middle to the end with a velvety mouthfeel. This coffee has a long aftertaste.
Farm: La Pradera
Producer: Eduardo Vargas
Region: Urrao, Antioquia, Colombia
Varietal: Caturra Chiroso
Altitude: 2020 masl
Processing: Washed process with 3 days mixed fermentation. Dried on parabolic raised beds.
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