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4 Everton Park #01-40
Singapore, 080004
Singapore

+65 6220 2330

A coffee bar and roastery driven by our beliefs to foster direct, transparent and sustainable relationships with our coffee producers, so as to help us to source, roast and brew some of the most amazing coffees from around the world, to the best we think they should taste and share them with you.

Journal

Filtering by Tag: Colombia

Colombia Best Cup 2018

Nylon Coffee Roasters

Photo credit: Cafe Imports

Photo credit: Cafe Imports

We have been avid supporters of the Best Cup events organised by Banexport and Cafe Imports. Andrew Miller, founder of Cafe Imports, together with Banexport, organised this coffee competition with the initial motivation of “quality discovery”. It was to show producers that high quality coffees will be recognised and rewarded accordingly with higher prices. This is a direct incentive for producers to continue coffee farming with focus on quality. It is also an opportunity for producers to meet the buyers and connect them together.

Our first experience of the Best Cup event was back in 2014 when it was first held in Cauca. Back then, the event was a lot cosier and much smaller in terms of scale. For those who’d like to read about that event, you can access through this link. The success of this first Best Cup led to the same competition being held in the Huila region in 2016 and 2017. Last year, it was the inaugural Colombia Best Cup competition with coffees from 4 regions - Cauca, Huila, Tolima and Nariño. The Banexport team cupped through samples from more than 500 producers. From the hundreds of samples, the top 30 coffees were selected and a group of international buyers/roasters gather for a few days to cup and score the 30 coffees. The top 15 will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. As part of this international panel, we had the opportunity to taste some amazing coffees from the 4 regions. After a few rounds of intensive cupping, the winning coffee of Colombia Best Cup went to Mr Jairo Quiñones. A relatively young producer, who has a 5 hectare farm in Pitalito, Huila. His coffee, a fully washed Colombian variety, scored an average of 90 points on the cupping table. Many cuppers commented the coffee tasted of sweet cherry, sparkling lemonade, orange blossom, peaches, coconut, raspberry, agave….& lots more… We scored this coffee 90 points and it was one of the cups that really catches your attention with its flavour complexity and sweetness.

The lot size of this winning lot was 6 bags. Bidding in an auction was adrenalin pumping. The locals went hysterical and kept cheering on for higher prices. It would have been a challenge for us to take on all 6 bags given the high price and the lot size. Fortunately, our good friend from Coffee Libre, who wasn’t able to attend this event approached us to co-bid for the winning lot. The bidding went crazy as it went past US$20/lb! Our hearts were beating and we were playing mind games to see how far each party would go to secure this winning lot. In the end, we kept on the bidding….. till we finally won the lot at US$27.50/lb! To put into context, this price is still far from what the famous Panama Geishas coffees might fetch, but for a small producer in Colombia, this is a really substantial amount that can have a real significant impact on their lives.

On top of the outstanding coffee that Jairo produces, it was important to support him by paying a premium to acknowledge his hard work and efforts for being a consistently good producer. Hopefully, this will help to motivate and incentivise other producers to strive for excellence. Jairo Quiñones has participated in previous Best Cup Huila and had always been in the list of finalists. Since 2014, we have noticed that there are hardly any repeat producers in the top 15 places of the regional competitions, except for Jairo Quinones. When we spoke to Banexport, they acknowledged the difficulties in keeping producers to continue their focus on quality year on year even if they get good results in the Best Cup. Some struggle to understand what led to inconsistencies in their harvest quality, some failed to take proper care in processing post harvest or some become complacent after getting good prices just once. With this in mind, we felt that Jairo really deserves it. As he came to terms with the price his coffee fetched from the bidding, he commented that he is even more motivated after this and will use the auction proceeds to invest in infrastructure to do an even better job for his future harvests. This is the spirit which we hope will spur on more small producers to come onboard.

After the auction, we split up the 6 bags amongst 3 roasters, with our friends, Elixr Coffee in Philadelphia wanting to showcase this top pick with their customers too. With only 48kg, this coffee will have a rather short run. We are thrilled and honoured to share this winning coffee here in Singapore. We highly recommend you to order this coffee online as it is likely there won’t be much available on our retail rack.

Footnote: As a general comparison, we pay between US$3 - US$4.00/lb (before freight costs and taxes) for most of our coffees from Colombia. For some special varieties or processing methods, prices range from US$4 - US$7/lb.

El Naranjal, Cauca Best Cup #10

Nylon Coffee Roasters


Luis Alberto picking coffee cherries

Luis Alberto picking coffee cherries

This is a little overdue as some might have already seen this coffee on our retail rack & web shop or consumed it at our shop. There is much to share about this coffee which comes from a familiar region called Cauca in Colombia. When we participated in judging for the Cauca Best Cup competition, we were looking out for some special coffees which would be a showcase of what micro-producers can produce with limited resources. We know it is not possible for some small producers to try experimenting with growing different varietals or processing the coffees in very "non-traditional" method because if things do not turn out well, their livelihood will be at risk. They do not have adequate financial resources to be too experimental, hence for these small producers, they can only improve their quality by taking baby steps, such as by improving the picking of only ripe cherries first, then better sorting of the ripes & unripes prior to the fermentation of the cherries.

Typical parabolic dryers found in Colombia, also used in El Naranjal

Typical parabolic dryers found in Colombia, also used in El Naranjal

This new coffee we are rolling out was ranked number 10 in the Cauca Best Cup competition. To refresh a little about this competition, the national cuppers (mainly the cupping team from Banexport) cup through more than 700 coffees that were submitted for this competition. 30 were shortlisted to enter the last few rounds of cupping by international judges during the competition. Together with a group of roasters/buyers from US, Russia and Korea we judged through 3 rounds to narrow down to the top 15 coffees which was auctioned off on the last day of the event. We knew it was a tough fight for some of the top lots as there were some very serious and experienced bidders in the group. The goal of this competition and auction was to motivate and inspire small producers that hard work will be rewarded. We wanted to be part of this movement, so instead of joining the big guys in a bidding war for the top few lots, we bidded for one of the coffees which we really like. 

Martha Luz Peña and Luis Alberto Chate overlooking their farm

Martha Luz Peña and Luis Alberto Chate overlooking their farm

Ranked at 10th place in the Cauca Best Cup, Finca El Naranjal is owned by Martha Luz Peña. The farm is located in the Caldono municipal of Cauca. Her farm area is approximately 0.8 hectares and all the land is used for coffee production. She has about 2700 trees with a mix of Caturra, Castillo and Colombian. Martha lives in the farm with her husband, Luis Alberto Chate. They have been farming for more than 2 decades. About 5 years ago, they started producing specialty coffee, it was not easy but with lots of effort they are slowly improving each year. With help from Banexport, they started to pick Castillo and Caturra varietals separately. Luis coordinates the cherry pickers during the harvest season. He makes sure that they are doing a good job, so that there would be no unripe beans when it reaches the wet mill. They also monitor the drying process to ensure that the coffee parchment has enough ventilation in the parabolic dryer.

We are proud to share the fruits of Martha & Luis's hard work. It took us a while to start roasting this winning coffee, but we feel most of the Colombians seem to taste better after "acclimatizing" for a few months here in Everton Park. So it is tasting super duper yummy now with more complexity than when we first cupped it. Melange of mandarin orange, plums, hint of florals with cane sugar sweetness. Well-structured body, rounded and smooth. 

Farm: El Naranjal
Producer: Martha Luz Peña
Location: Caldono, Cauca
Altitude: ~1850 masl
Varietal: Caturra and Colombia
Processing: Depulped in the afternoon after the cherries are picked. Wet fermentation for 16 hours and fully washed 4 times before drying in traditional parabolic dryers for 4-5 days depending on weather conditions.

This coffee is available now.

PS: Our friends from Patriot Coffee Roasters had this video of the endless cuppings, farm visits of music blasting the local chiva bus and endless discussions/tabulations of scores that culminate to a night of crazy bidding frenzy. Enjoy! :)