Colombia Farm Visits
Irving Farm green coffee buyer Dan Streetman just returned from a whirlwind trip to Colombia to visit farms and taste wonderful coffees. He visited Bogota, Garcon, Monserrate, and La Plata, cupping dozens of coffees a day in search for the right flavors — and relationships — to bring back to our roastery in New York State.
Just a brief update on what is going on here in Colombia. So far the trip has been really good… we have a diverse group of folks with three coffee buyers (myself, Kaldi’s and Batdorf & Bronson), one cafe manager from Kaldi’s, two folks from Atlas, and a coffee producer from El Salvador. We’ve been having a healthy range of discussions about the biz.
Monserrate was AMAZING. We went up to Monserrate early this morning, it is about an hour up from La Plata where we are staying even though it is only 30km. I had forgotten how rough the road is, and it was a little worrisome when we came up to a bulldozer pushing giant boulders into the road. We waited for a bit, and he cleared it for us. It is great to see them paving the road however, and was much improved from last year. We started with a calibration cupping, and then had 2 rounds of actual cupping. We saw some really nice coffees: the highest I scored was an 88.5 which was very Kenya-like… Also some very nice classic Colombian profiles with refined acidity, and very sweet.
We also had schoolkids around the whole day while we were cupping, as we were using one of the school classrooms for our cupping lab. There were also some kids who were enrolled in a coffee education program at their high school who came and cupped with us. The kids were very shy at first, but got super excited and began tasting the coffees with us after the last round was finished. We ended up chatting a lot with them, and they were asking us all kinds of questions. Where we were from, did we speak Spanish etc, etc, etc. Then they all started asking for us to take photos with them.
After the cupping wrapped up we walked the length of the Monserrate village, and gathered a new following of 8-10 year old girls. They were very amusing, and it helped keep the farm visits light-hearted. Having Emilio Lopez here (farmer from El Salvador) is also especially exciting, as listening to him chat with the farmers, and hearing his thoughts on the coffee production here is very enlightening. Overall a very rewarding day.
Tomorrow we’re having breakfast at 7:30 at the local bakery Pan Superpan, whose owner today insisted on taking her photo with all of us to put on Facebook. Then we’ll head back up to Monserrate, and we have another 3 rounds of cupping. I also am excited, as they told me I’ll get to meet Dario Anaya tomorrow, even though we can’t visit his farm, El Jigual. Alto Patico is on another ridge, and apparently very difficult to get to.
Back in Bogota tonight, it is really nice to take a hot shower, and relax a little. Yesterday we finished the cupping. There was an impressive lot of coffees, I scored all of the top 5 very high. We’re buying two lots from the competition, a ~115lb lot from Willer Rivera, which I scored 89.25, and a ~150lb lot from Orlando Osa. After the cupping we had a meeting with a big group of folks from the village and explained to them how each of our companies was using the coffee and how much we had enjoyed it over the past year. It was really cool to see the community come out and be interested.
Unfortunately it rained most of the day Saturday and it prevented Dario from coming over to Monserrate from Alto Patico. Last year was our first year buying from El Jigual. I loved it’s classic Colombian structure, with flavors of fresh blackberry, wrapped in heavy chocolate body. It is rich and robust, making it a perfect winter-spring coffee. The good news is Dario has been submitting coffee to our exporter partner here RaCafe, and we should see a sample soon. Our love for El Jigual will hopefully continue into the coming seasons!