La Palma y El Tucan – Colombia

FLAVOR NOTES:
Pineapple, stone fruits, red apple, honey, vanilla, juicy mouthfeel

Farm : Villa Blanquita
Owner : Alfredo Garcia & Julio Cortes Gomez
Variety : Castillo
Process : Lactic fermentation
Region : Anolaima, Cundinamarca
Altitude (masl) : 1750

Don Alfredo Garcia’s beautiful yet small farm, Hacienda Villa Blanquita sits at an altitude of 1750 m.a.s.l in the village called Anolaima. Farm manager and grower, Don Julio Gomez is completely in charge of running the farm and he has also lived on site for over a decade with his family. Villa Blanquita is one of the neighbouring farms from the famous coffee producer La Palma y El Tucán. They joined their Neighbours and Crops program a few years ago. Before joining Don Julio used to pick and process the coffees himself. His biggest struggle was drying the coffee because it takes a lot of attention to rotate and rack the parchment to reach proper humidity levels.

Don Julio is dedicated in taking the farm forward in a sustainable way. For healthy agroforestry practices Julio has planted plantain trees among the coffee fields to provide soil nutrients and shade. Moving the focus from picking and processing to actual farming has given him more time to concentrate to enhancing quality. Also this has freed him to spend more time with his family and perhaps to inspire one of his sons to see coffee farming as a future possibility.

La Palma y El Tucan

La Palma y El Tucan is an innovative and dedicated coffee company that works hard to be better and do better. They have become known for their highly innovative processing methods and also for their dedication to create sustainable coffee business.

The hard work and low pay of traditional coffee farming together with the areas proximity to the capital city is luring many of the younger generation away from coffee farming. This is also a trend La Palma y El Tucan wishes to change in the future by providing the farmers a possibility to concentrate on quality instead of quantity. For the future generations to stay and continue their families’ legacy it has to make economic sense. For this reason LPET has taken many initiatives such as:

  • paying 50% more than the country’s price average
  • guaranteeing above-fair-trade price minimum
  • training local cherry pickers, provide the transportation for the coffee
  • donating coffee trees raised in their nursery and give back organic fertilisers made at their farm from coffee cherry pulp

Neighbours and Crops Program

Neighbours and Crops Program brings LPET’s own, highly trained pickers to the farms to select and pick the cherries. After this the Cherries are transported to LPET’s facilities for processing. Their innovative lab is controls the different stages of coffee growing and processing. They are also experimenting with different fermentation methods such as Lactic fermenting and Acetic fermenting.

More than 200 coffee-growing families within a 10 km radius are taking part in LPET’s program.  The program is designed to offer different benefits to the families that help LPET incentivise them to become an active part of the specialty coffee industry. The families commit to the highest possible quality standards while focusing on innovative practises that protect the ecosystem. As a result the Program also drives to revitalise the coffee-growing culture in the region.

Sitio Pinheirinho – Brazil

FLAVOR NOTES:
NOUGAT, RIPE APRICOT, TROPICAL FRUITS, CHOCOLATE, MELLOW ACIDITY

Farm : Pinheirinho
Owner : Paulo César Junqueira
Variety : Yellow Catuai

Process : Natural
Region : Carmo de Minas
Altitude (masl) : 1056 – 1140

Paulo César Junqueira, better known as Lilica to his family, friends and associates is a third generation coffee farmer from Carmo de Minas, Brazil. He inherited his farm Pinheirinho from his father after he passed away. Although he comes from a long line of coffee farmers Lilica didn’t learn much of the trade growing up due to his distant relationship with his father. After his father passed away Lilica ceased the opportunity and focused on learning the activities of managing the farm.

Over time he began to understand the process of coffee production but had still little to no knowledge over cup quality and therefore didn’t know the real potential of his product. At 2009 Lilica started working with Carmo Coffees, a regional green coffee exporter, and found out he had specialty coffees growing on his land with great flavours and attributes. In his words, “I discovered that my coffees on average reach 85 points and tastes like plum.” This brought him to focus more on the quality than quantity of his coffees. And five years later Collaborative Coffee Source, our green coffee supplier started working with Lilica.

Carmo de Minas and Carmo Coffees

Carmo de Minas has become a destination in the Brazilian coffee world. The topographic and climatic conditions contribute to its distinction greatly, but as always when people are involved they are the ones who make the biggest difference. The farmers, the pickers, the controllers and the exporters.

Carmo Coffees is a green coffee exporter that specialises to the Carmo de Minas regions coffees and its producers. It’s run by cousins Jacques Pereira Carneiro and Luis Paulo. The latter is also the president of Brazil Specialty Coffee Association (BSCA). They both represent already a 5th generation of coffee farmers and together the oversee 12 farms and 6 processing stations – all owned by the Pereira family.

Carmo Coffees does not just work with its own family’s production of course. It drives to better the already good quality this region has become famous for. Carmo de Minas has had a bit of luck in terms of the coffee quality with the growing conditions and good plant material. And the region has experienced a “clean sweep” in Cup of Excellence competitions. But the quality has the potential to be even better and the amount of best coffee to be even higher.

Historically the picking technique has been picking the coffee bush clean during one harvesting season. This is naturally very time-effective but in order to get the sweetest coffee you need to to pick the sweetest, ripest cherries. This of course means learning new skills and techniques and also associated costs. The incentive to change comes in the form of higher prices in the specialty coffee segment.

Natural processing

Natural processing can sound very simple. Once the coffee fruits are picked they are laid on drying beds out in the sun. With great conditions the cherries turn from bright red to very dark brown. After this the thick, dried outer layer is hulled off and the green bean is revealed. This method traditionally suits for regions where the sun and heat can dry the seed inside the intact fruit skin. Natural processing also suits very well for coffees that may have higher acidity consistency compared to natural sugars. Drying the fruit as a whole lets the bean inside absorb more sugars and nice fruity flavours. Unless done in supervised and suitable conditions there is a risk of over-fermentation and mold. This is why the method is also not at all suitable for humid surroundings.

Kenya – Gakuyu-ini AB

FLAVOR NOTES:
HONEYDEW, RASPBERRY, BLACK TEA, SPARKLING ACIDITY

Co-operation : Gakuyu-ini Coffee Factory
Farmer : several small-holders
Variety : SL 28 & 34 (AB)

Process : Washed
Region : Kirinyaga
Altitude (masl) : 1700

Gakuyu-ini Coffee Factory is a 35 year old coffee factory in Central Province, Kirinyaga District in Kenya. The factory serves small-holder farmers from Githiru, Gituba and Gichugu Divisions and is a part of over fifty year old Thirikwa Farmers Co-operative Society Ltd. Thirikwa Coop has over 1600 members from which around 40% are women. Due to it’s large size the coop has built two extra collection centres for Gakuyu-ini factory. This has helped a great deal in reaching the more remote farms.

The farms reach altitudes around 1700 m.a.s.l. and cultivate mostly SL28 & 34 as well as some Ruiru11. The area collects most of its water supply between March-May when the long rains fall. There’s two harvest times with early harvest running from April to June and late harvest from October-December. During harvest times farmers hand pick the coffee cherries carefully when they reach the desired level of ripeness.

The farmers then deliver their cherries to the factory or the collection centres. Here the first step is sorting the and cleaning. A trained team separates the cherries according to their ripeness and color before moving them on to pulping. After pulping coffee cherries need to ferment for about 24 hours before washing and second fermentation cycle. All this is followed by another washing cycle and soaking before the squeaky clean beans hit the skin drying beds for one morning and from there to raised drying beds for about 8 to 12 days. The drying process is carefully controlled. Beans are covered for the night to avoid humidity and protected with shade nets during the hottest periods. Due to this impeccable standard of processing, flavor profiles of Kenyan coffees are as perceptible as anything we know.

Gakuyu-ini factory is making several initiatives in order to respond to raising awareness on the need to conserve the environment. Such as waste water soak pits that let the waste water to percolate back into the soil, usage of compost manure and planting new trees on their farms. The farmers pay a lot of attention to cultivation methods and try to avoid inorganic fertilisers by applying compost and farmyard manure.

Screen Sizing in Kenya

Grading Kenyan coffee beans is done by separating and rating them by bean size as well as shape, collar and density. This is all done with the general assumption being that bigger coffee beans are higher in quality.

There’s all together 13 grades for Kenyan coffee. But only 4 in which coffee most likely has the potential of being considered specialty; AA, AB, PB and E. AA grade consists of beans with no defects and no visual marks and the screen size of 18-19 mm. Consequently AB has the screen size of 16-17mm. PB means peaberry with one single coffee bean within the cherry rather than the usual two half beans. E (Elephant) graded beans consist of the largest Kenyan beans meeting the screen size of 20mm and have a genetic visual defect causing two beans to join in one cherry. When these beans part during processing there is a noticeable ear on each bean.