February 2016 Subscription Letter
Colombia is one of the world’s leading producers of specialty coffee, both in terms of sheer export volume and overall cupping quality. In fact, Colombia trails only Vietnam and Brazil in global coffee production, but the vast majority of Vietnamese coffee is robusta and Brazilian coffee can suffer from mechanical harvesting and quality issues. Simply put, no other country produces as much outstanding coffee as Colombia.
There are two harvests annually in Colombia, which ensures fresh, high quality coffee is available year-round. Following several difficult years of roya (coffee rust) outbreaks, farmers across the country committed themselves to replanting lost crops. The results of their hard work and dedication to the Colombian coffee industry are starting to pay off, and production results for 2015 have reached 23-year highs. Following the height of the roya outbreak, annual production in 2012 hit 7.7M bags, and the harvest is expected to hit 14.2M bags in 2015.
One of the biggest challenges facing the coffee industry in Colombia is a combination of labor shortage and increasing wages for field workers. While these issues might seem contradictory, the challenges facing coffee pickers are significant. Coffee trees are planted on hillsides, which makes picking cherries incredibly taxing on the body. Harvesters are typically paid once per year, which creates additional financial pressure for families involved in the coffee trade. These factors are contributing to an increasingly challenging environment for coffee production in Colombia, and highlight the importance of a focus on long-term sustainability in the specialty coffee trade.
Our latest coffee from Colombia comes to us from the farm of Weyman Jojoa (Caja Bamba) in Consaca, Nariño. After cupping several incredible lots of coffee from importers across the country, the complexity and syrupy body of this coffee was simply too good to pass up. We taste sweet notes of honey and vanilla, and the coffee has a uniquely fresh and savory body that reminds us of cherry tomatoes. The coffee has a bright, grapefruit-like finish that helps keep the cup in balance and keeps us coming back for more every time we brew a cup.
BONUS COFFEE ALERT! We sample a LOT of coffee throughout the year, and often end up with a few hundred grams of each sample bag we receive from our importers. We didn’t want these sample “deltas” to go to waste, so we put them all together (12 pounds in all!) and roasted up a batch of what we’re calling our “Sample Mélange.” Enjoy this little taste of (almost) every coffee producing country in the world :)