So spluttering into day 4 (over half way) a special coffee for special occasions. Maybe not one for drinking every day (but tomorrows will help with that) but one that you just have to try (preferably with tomorrows). Exceptional coffee that I am proud to have here.
Introducing a coffee we have seen before, but this time as a UK exclusive and direct trade offering, and one I am very happy to have in that stable.
The story starts back in 2009 when it seemed like we had been searching for great Colombian for ever. This had been much harder than it should have been, with Colombian yields massively down and lots of the coffee being hoovered up by people with big pockets who just need to have a Colombian, regardless of the quality.
We stocked the 2009 Tipica crop from this farm and it was only a small lot, but so popular and so enjoyed that it was gone in two and a half weeks. We had expected it would last until the new crop would arrive many weeks later. So we stocked a good amount of it last year (and still flew out the door), its become a favourite farm and producer.
But this year we found out from Camilo that the importer would not be bringing in the coffee, and all the hard work, searching and cupping would be wasted. So cue the music and a flight to Colombia, (tagged on to the start of my trip to the World Barista Championships) I flew out to see Camilo and to try to fix this.
A few days will Camilo you realise that he is the future of the colombian coffee industry. I’ll try and quantify that staement, for years colombia has had a great reputation, and has achieved great prices (even when markets were low the colombian differential was always high). But changes in climate and issues with plant diseases (leaf rust is a huge problem in colombia) have put pressure on yields and pressure to change traditional plant stock for that of more disease resistant strains such as castillo, catimore and colombia. The problem with this is that these varietals don’t take into account whats important to me, how it tastes. Camilo is working with varietals purely for their intrinsic taste values, and to make the best farm, not just in region or colombia but the world.He is constantly asking questions, working with interesting irrigation ideas to work against the change in climate, even building a giant greenhouse for an experimental lot of growing coffee under cover.
This crazy approach to growing coffee is nothing new to Camilo, he bought land that Santuario now sits on, without any coffee on it at all. The land had previously been grazing, for cattle. It was barren and in a rather bad way, but it seemed there was potential for great Colombian coffee to be grown. With an altitude of 1800-2100 metres, low temperatures at night (but not too low), and high temperatures during the day (again not too high), the land had possibilities.
With active agronomy, soil management and careful varietal selection, this farm is now one of the most amazing coffee experiments I have seen. If I were to build a farm ( and one day I hope this will happen), this would be the model I would follow. Camilo has selected Tipica and Bourbon as the main crop (80%) and experimental lots of Geisha, Maragogype and Mocha (20%). You can see by the map below that this farm has been meticulously planned and every piece designed to fit in with each other.
With further plans to extend the varietal stock and build a wet mill, this farm will continue to become a benchmark for farm design, and to show that quality coffee can achieve the premiums that are needed to maintain this style of farm.
In the cup its hard to talk about this one, without talking about its larger lot sized (and cheaper) red brother. Like the red you can expect very clean and very elegant sweetness with bakers chocolate and a brown sugar, which develops into a lovely plum like acidity. Where it changes and grows is in its magnification. Everything gets a little big bigger a little more defined, but what is different is the mouthfeel, creamy, liquid velvet wraps it up quite nicely.
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Coffee: Finca Santuario Heliconias Bourbon
Farm: Finca Santuario Heliconias
Varietal(s): 100% Bourbon
Altitude: This lot 2050 metres above sea level rest of farm (1890 – 2010)
Farm Size: 135.4 hectares
Coffee growing size: 62.9 Hectares
Owner: Camilo Merizald