Finca Argentina Update 2018

Want to check out my Flickr images ? You can see them here!

So I’ve been back just over a week, and thought it was a good time to go through my Central America trip. The trip was lots of fun (if not a little ruined by KLM losing my luggage that they still cant find. Traveling for two weeks without any of your belongings is challenging and not so much fun. My advice if you travel and value your luggage dont fly KLM.

Anyway bitterness out the way I thought I would take this opportunity to give you an update and share some of my photos of my trip. The first stop on the trip is Finca Argentina









Ale has become a super close friend, and a very important partner for us in El Salvador. He has also become a barometer for whats happening in the country. Finca Argentina back in the day was producing 700-800 bags at its peak. Admittedly this was commercial production, not necessarily looking for quality, looking for yield. But in recent years the harvest has been up and down, as high as 400 and as low as 80. This year its low and somewhere between 150 – 200 bags. Lots of this is down to leaf rust in the area, climate change (yes mr trump its real) and wind and replanting.









Last year San Jorge was looking tired and not very healthy, and n our visit Ale decided he was going to replant. So we fixed him up with some Yellow pacamara seed from our friends in Nicaragua and they have now been planted. The plot looks very exciting and I cant wait until 2022 for the first full harvest. We may have a small amount (like a kilo or two) to try this year from the varietal garden, but its a waiting game.









Part of the waiting game we have coming sooner is the SL 28 plants. A couple of years ago I managed to get my hands on some parchment from Kenya (I got it myself) and managed to get it to Ale to plant. This is a small plot, but we hope in th next could of years to have some to sell.









Lots of work has gone into the farm, more organising, more security, more replanting just generally more. I never like to praise Ale, but he has done a good job this year, and I hope in the coming years we can see that yield and cup quality grow some.

But while we wait, Ale has ideas and experiments and here is a video of a watering system he came up with for the yellow pacamara

I also asked for Ale to explain Whats a Petite ? As always he doesn’t follow the script, but its still interesting.

I took a load of photos as normal (around 2500 this whole trip) and picked out some of my favourites and uploaded them to Flickr, you can see them here

BIG NEWS – New Blends!

Change can be scary, but it can also be exciting.

Over the last six years we’ve been super proud to offer a range of signature blends like Jailbreak, Blake and Jabberwocky and over that time Jailbreak, has had 36 iterations, each one delivering a balanced, sweet and clean cup profile.

Blends allow you consistent quality, with a taste profile you expect… even as coffees change from season to season and the range of blends we offer has expanded over the years as we’ve had new ideas, goals or coffees to shout about.

Now, it’s time to talk about the next big change.

A change that celebrates seasonality and the finite nature of the coffees we buy whilst keeping that same consistency.

We are relaunching our blends with just three flavour profiles. Red, White and Black.

Blends in the ‘Red’ profile will be focussed on balance, sweetness and cleanliness. This will be replacing the infamous Jailbreak Blend. A consistent easy to work with tasty sweet smooth balanced espresso.

The ‘Black’ profile celebrates a heavier, natural process led espresso. Think dried fruit, dark chocolate and rich mouthfeel. This will sit in the Blake / Breakfast bomb seat. Filling all the needs of these two blends in one balanced super blend.

The ‘White’ profile is bright fruit, balanced acidity, clarity and vibrancy. This will sit in the Jabberwocky / Kicker seat – zingy and a little more challenging to work with than Red or Black, but full of amazing results when you get it right.

Alongside these three regular profiles, will sit a fourth unique blend. This fourth blend will be a chance to explore and experiment, celebrating something specific and outside the box for a limited time only. This will sit across many of the previous blends every time it changes, but expect the unexpected.

Every month one blend will be replaced, so each one will only be available for around three months. Three consistent profiles and a wildcard.

We’ll rotate the change so there will always be something new to taste, but each individual blend will only be available as long as it’s coffees exist.

This is how Jailbreak and our other blends had always been updated

But this change will allow us to put the focus on the impermanent nature of each seasons coffee crop, as well as the skill of blending to deliver on a desirable style through the course of the year.

We’re looking forwards to seeing where these changes take us, we would love you to join the ride.

The first batch of blends are as follows…


Red Giant
40% El Salvador Finca La Fany Pulped Natural Bourbon
40% El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Washed Bourbon
20% Costa Rica Sumava Monte Llano Bonito Villa Sarchi Yellow Honey

Well balanced and easy to work with as espresso, sweetness driven, easy drinking as espresso / milk based / filter.


White Dwarf
60% Bolivia Taypiplaya Delia Washed
20% Malawi Msese AB Washed
20% Burundi Nemba Washed Bourbon

Bright acidity, clean and complex, fruity.


Black Hole
70% Brazil Fazenda Inglaterra Natural Selection
30% Sulawesi Tana Toraja Kalosi Washed Typica A

Heavy body, dried fruit and dark chocolate, low acidity, strong base.


Dark Side of the Moon
50% El Salvador Finca Alaska Washed Bourbon
20% El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Washed Bourbon
20% El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Washed Bourbon
10% El Salvador Los Brisas Washed Bourbon

Complex acidity and huge fruit flavours, with a sparkling and clean, sharp finish.

We’re also going to take this long overdue opportunity to mix up our starter packs – From now on an espresso starter pack will include the 3 new core blends red, black and white + a delicious single origin at a super value price of just £20 – that’s £5 each. We will also be changing the filter starter packs to four packs of stellar single origins, hand picked by moi, for a score – Lovely jubbly.

Roland’s Diary, Day 7

Roland continues his travels in Costa Rica. He seems to be making lots of friends, but not getting much of a tan


Time has flown in Costa Rica – it doesn’t seem like my seventh day here, with less than two days before I head back to Britain. Today was the second round of the Cup of Excellence. Of the 60 coffees that were presented to the International Jury, 41 made it through to the second round. Starting at 8am, we finished our 5 cupping sessions at 6pm having scored all 41. Over night, the back room team will collate the scores, to identify the top 10 that we will then cup again tomorrow to give more detailed feedback on.


The range of coffees we have tasted this week has been huge – I’m looking forward to tomorrow when I’ll be able to put a name to the farms that grow these coffees. That will also be a bit sad, as it’s the last day with the other jury members – it’s been great to get to know fantastic coffee professionals from all over the world (the photos are me with the two National Jury members who joined the International Jury – Jose Javier Carmona and Jose Pablo Juarez).


Win stuff

cats, coffee and prizes

some of you may have noticed last weekend a few of our wholesale customers ran events with live music and entertainment to celebrate the release of the Coen brothers new film Inside Llewyn Davis, in cinemas now! We also made a custom blend celebrating the chemex brewer, typical of coffee brewing in 60’s america, and we planned to only give this to the stores promoting the film but we’ve been left with one little retail bag for a lucky person – on top of that StudioCanal have given us a beautiful signed soundtrack (either in vinyl or cd) to give away to one of you lovely people

all you need to do is tweet an image of coffee, and a cat (why a cat? watch the movie, go on, NOW!) with the hashtag #insidellewyndavis – best pic before the 31st wins

warning – we like cats, and they are clever, make sure you have their permission!!!!!

Day 2 Coffee shops and big huge drops

So Day two in Bolivia, and today I hope for happier times. The bomb shell of Machacamarca is still ringing in my ears. We all have bad days, but I don’t think I have ever had a bad day where someone has tried to take away property that’s been in my family for 6 generations.

Today is very much a day about travelling, but before that I get to experience, let’s talk about a coffee shop that’s trying to do the right things. It’s called Roaster Boutique and it’s about three blocks from the hotel I am stopping in, in La Paz. It’s owned by a guy call Mauricio, who is a producer I met when I was on the Cup of Excellence jury back in 2006 and 2008. He’s a young guy doing great things with the farms that he had, pushing boundaries with processing and with varietal work. He picked up awards in those competitions, and he has them proudly displayed in the store.

But he has taken this experimentation onward into the coffee shop, where ha has two roasters in store (I’m not a fan of in-store roasting, but this was done very tactfully) and has a bar-style layout where you are drawn to sit down. They are only doing Bolivian coffee, which may not seem that shocking, but the two other stores I visited seemed happier promoting Colombian and Peruvian coffee than their own. They also offer lessons on how to brew coffee, something that I think should be applauded. They also employ a barista from the States called Ellie, who seemed super knowledgeable, and worked for a Counter Culture customer whilst working in the US.

I had an espresso, which was very very good. I hadn’t thought so much about it but at this altitude it must be super tough to pull, so it was very good in those circumstances. I had a Chemex also, which although good, I think had suffered more from the altitude. So high up water boils so much earlier, and it’s something I struggled with in this week’s In My Mug. I don’t think this one was helped by the fact that that water temperature had dropped a little before pouring and it was cool. Cool water will not extract as well as water at a higher temperature.

But all in all the shop was a very cool place. So where am I going with this? Well, I hear all the time that “my town / my city is not quite ready for us to go geeky on them”. I hear that “there is no market for smaller drinks and a clear and defined menu”, and “no-one wants tasting classes or is interested in specialty coffee”.

But if someone can do this in La Paz (and trust me there is nowhere on this earth I would expect this to be more so the case than here) then you can open the shop with all the rules you want in place, to make it a geek’s paradise, and it can work. You just need to make sure it’s empathetic to your audience’s needs, and is presented in a way that they can just access it.

So we all know Bolivia because of coffee, and lots of other people know it because of cocoa plants. But the other thing that Bolivia has started to become quite famous for is its roads. Brought to the front by programs like Top Gear and their Bolivia special, and Ice Road Truckers, and also National Geographic programs about the Death Road between La Paz and Corico (which I cycled down in 2008), roads have become a little bit of Bolivia’s ‘thing’.

So today I set off to Caranarvi which is around 4 and a half hours of driving. We couldn’t leave until 5pm because the road is closed during the day at the moment to try to make it larger and safer. So on the first part of the journey between La Paz and Corico the road was replaced around 6 years ago with a brand new (not perfect) but safer road. I even commented how easy this is while we were driving.

Then comes the second part, between Corico and Caranarvi, which is currently being worked on. I have never ever been so scared of a journey. In pitch black conditions thrashing through to passing points so the huge trucks coming the other way can get past. All that you may have seen and heard about Bolivian roads from TV and books is completely and utterly true. But I’ve made it to the mill where most of our amazing coffees came from last year, and I look forward to lots of fun tomorrow.