Colombia, Day 4
This morning we begin making our way north to Manizales. We stop to cup coffees with ACC. We are greeted by Robinson River and Alexander Cajiao. They tell us of their commitment to helping coffee producers get the most value for their crop which can help to incentivize farmers to stop growing coca. ACC primarily creates greater value in what would be lower scoring coffees by applying different fermentation methods to create unique flavors in the coffee. Lots of fruity coffees.
After cupping, we visit Federico Pillimue’s coffee farm. A beautiful place with coffee planted on very steep hills.
Next we are on to Finca El Paraiso to meet Diego Bermudez. He serves us a delicious lunch of chicken and rice, along with a coffee that is one of the most delicious coffees I’ve ever tasted. My interest is peaked, to say the least.
Diego and his Microbiologist then take us into their microbiology lab and begin to explain their process. Basically, they use a still to distill components of the coffee tree, the mucilage of the fruit, the flowers, and the leaves, along with distilling flavors notes found in the coffee to create essential oils that are then added to a yeast. This mixture is then combined with the freshly harvested, de-pulped coffee and then loaded into a pressure cooker set to 25 psi. The pressure causes the essential oils to bind with the coffee. The coffee is then dried in what is similar to a large dehumidifier which slowly removes moisture from the coffee without heating it. This helps to keep the embryo of the coffee alive longer, in-turn lengthening the lifespan of the green coffee.
Diego and his family own 8 farms, all under the name Finca El Paraíso. Additionally, he buys coffee cherry from 150 families in the region, paying 10 - 15% more than the commodities market. Through the special processing methods they have invented, they are able to buy what would be a low scoring coffee variety and increase its score by at least 2 points.
We all cup a few tables of coffee in his beautiful lab. I find out at this point that the delicious coffee I tasted at lunch is of the Castillo variety (which contains Robusta) and without all of this special processing, would have tasted at least 2 - 3 points lower. Mind blown.