So for the next 12 working days (taking us up to the 22nd the last royal mail posting day) we have the Has Bean 12 days of Christmas for you, This is going backwards 12 days, not the traditional 12 days after Christmas (any excuse really to post).
This will involve a new item each day, to help you find inspiration for the perfect coffee for Christmas day. Some old favourites, some very new and exciting coffee that will become firm favourites I am sure.
So lets finish on a Vilca in a coffee tree.
I am so pleased to see this coffee back for its forth year, and same as last year, we have also been able to secure the honeyed and natural versions too, as well as securing more of the crop. It’s become a big favourite for me, and I know this is also true for many of you too.
It’s from the colony of Bolinda located in the North Yungas region of Bolivia near to the town of Caranarvi. The farm is called Finca David Vilca as it doesn’t have actually have a name. This is quite common in Bolivia, and farms are often named after the family running them, or after an individual.
David migrated from La Paz to the farm 16 years ago after a career in mining left him with damaged hearing. He bought this 12 hectare farm as security for himself and his family, to make sure they could support themselves. When he took over, he only had 1 acre planted with coffee (Criolla). After 2 years he was comfortable with coffee farming and becoming increasingly interested in it, and so decided to extend the planting. He now has 5 acres of coffee (all of which we have bought). He has very little outside help with the farm except from direct family: his wife helps him greatly.
The varietals on the farm are Caturra, Catuai, and Criolla. The farm is under constant improvement. David is now removing much of the Criolla and focusing on Typica and Catuai for cup quality reasons. This coffee comes from the Cattura parts of the farm.
This year you may notice the price of this coffee is unusual.
Having visited David a couple times now, I thought he was being rude to me, ignoring me or not responding when I spoke. Last time I found out David damaged his hearing whilst working as a miner before purchasing the farm.
In the past the exporter has given David some money to get hearing aids, but he spent the money on satellite TV (for his wife to watch – who hasn’t been in that situation)! So last year we paid for two hearing aids whilst we were there, so he could hear again.
We thought that would be the last of it, but this year when I visited David, he didn’t have his hearing aids in. He told us that they were not good while he was picking to wear, but also he couldn’t afford the batteries. So this year we left him with cash for a microphone hearing device for around his neck, and $200 for batteries. This works out 7p a bag for all the coffee we buy from him, and I’m not picking up the bill thats your job.
This is a wonderfully sweet cup, as you have come to expect from Bolivia; milk chocolate with walnut hints, which are so very familiar. Where this coffee opens up is in its acidity, think pear and mixed berries mashed (with that walnut and chocolate too) and you have the most delicious and complex coffee. The aftertaste carries on with lovely hints of spice and citrus, which ensures every cup is different. It evolves and changes through its temperature range.
Farm: Finca David Vilca
Region: North Yungas
Altitude: 1,570 – 1,600 m.a.s.l.
Hectares of total farm: 7 hectares
Hectares of coffee plantation: 5 hectares
Quantity of coffee plants: 20.000
Shade: Natural shade by Inga sp. (Sinquili) and others
Coffee varieties: Caturra, Criolla, and Typical
Rainfall period: Nov–February
Average temperature: 8°C ≤ 19°≥ 30°C
Soil type: Clay and shaley
Other crops grown: Citrus fruits (orange, tangerine) advocate
Average age of coffee plants: 8 to 12 years old. Now renovating plantations with Caturra and Typical