El Desarollo visit 2014 -
In the southern part of the Colombian Magdalena valley lies the city Gigante. It has gotten its name from the enormous tree standing at the central square
Gigante is the town where the association of Coffee farmers called El Desarollo has its warehouse for collection of coffee in dried parchment. The Warehouse also has a small office and cupping fascility.
On february 20th I came to Gigante for the second time to meet the good people of El Desarollo. I travelled with Josh from Heart Coffee Roasters, USA and Jinho from El Café, South Korea and our great host Giancarlo fromVirmax, Colombia.
When we arrived at the warehouse of El Desarollo, Luis Guiterrez was there to receive us. He proudly showed us the list of all the farmers of El Desarollo who had gotten sobreprecios in the last quarter. The sobreprecio is paid for coffees that scores more than 86 points (called AAA) and gets sold as microlots. Actually its a second “sobreprecio” since when Virmax cups the lots coming in they group them according to score and if lot gets more than 84 points they guarantee the farmer a premium / sobreprecio based on the cupping score. On top of that they can then get an additional sobreprecio if the particular coffee gets sold as a micro lot.
On the list are several of farmers we have bought coffee from including our latest micro lot from Edinson Liberato.
Later the same day we went to visit Edinson Liberato. He is 27 years old and has started growing coffee recently since he got some land from his father who has been growing coffee for a long time. Actually the only lot Edinson has that is in production now is the small lot of dark green trees you can see in the upper left behind him on the picture below. Its about half a hectare of coffee trees. In the next years he will reach 2 Ha of coffee trees in production. Lets hope the quality keeps up!
On friday 21st we had time to visit other producers from El Desarollo. Amongst them Edilfonso Yara, who participated to our El Desarollo lot this year and who we had a great microlot from last year. It was great to see Edilfonso and his wife again and see the passion towards producing ever better coffee. They had invested in an amazing space of shade drying tables with extra capacity, so that they will not be challenged by having to little drying capacity during the peak of the harvest.
In the afternoon we met with a group of the best producers of El Desarollo to have a meeting at their warehouse. Here pricing transperancy and future possibilities for cooperation was discussed. It was great to see the motivation from these guys to produce better quality and we will be looking very much forward to developing our relationship on this basis.
Sunday 23rd of February I went to meet with a larger group of roasters at the annual Cupping Extravarganza at Finca El Roble.
At El Roble they are investing a lot in different measures to try and develop quality. One thing is their Coffee Garden, where they grow around 80 varieties of coffee, mainly Arabica but also some Canephora. They have up to around 5 trees of each variety and this year 32 of them had produced enough coffee to be cupped at the Cupping Extravarganza.
Monday we cupped all the 32 different varieties. What stroke me the most was how I found that the varieties with lower cup quality where very distinct while the top part was less distinct and seemed to also be very influenced by the post harvest treatment. I found this in the way that in the to part some flavour profiles like “borderline fruitiness” and nuttiness where prevalent across varieties.
It seemed to me that some of the varities that I knew before hand didnt have the exact same flavour profiles. this gave me the thought that it might be difficult handling such small volumes of cherries as from a few trees to have a consistent post harvest treatment. It reminds me of how it can be a challenge to develop the beans as good in a small sample roaster with 80 – 100 grams og green as in a larger roaster with 10-20 kilos.
I want to stress that this should not be understood as El Roble is not doing a great job in post harvest processing. I actually think they are one of the places I have ever been that are having the most knowledge about as well doing the most experiments with the post harvest treatment in relation to developing better quality.
They are forinstance drying all their coffee in three layered shaded tables and we were presented to their experiments with temperature controlling fermentation as well as agitation of the fermenting pile of coffee.
On the second day we cupped the different special varieties they have selected to grow in a more commercial way. It was Mocca, Geisha, Wush Wush, HR 62 and HR 61.
The HR’s were my favorites – they were really nice coffees and to me in terms of sweetness and cleanliness all 5 varieties where a level above what we tasted the day before. The HR 61 really stood out as the most fanatastic for me. On top of being really sweet and clean it had both a smooth body but also a vibrant acidity that brought along wonderful delicate floral- and berry notes.
The coffees from the second day will go on auction on. I can strongly recommend to bid in for these.