Last year we roasted two filter coffees from Northern Ecuador, produced by Ramiro Granda and Jorge Tapia. We returned to Ecuador for the third time last year, with firm plans to connect with these two producers in particular. Each of their coffees displayed such individual traits, we wanted to understand how they are working in more detail. Excitingly, we’ve managed to secure great lots from both of them again to roast this year.
2019 marked Jorge’s third season as a coffee producer. Five years ago, a government initiative supplied 25 families in the Lloa area with seeds and processing equipment, with the promise to purchase their coffee crops at five times the market rate. Since the first small harvest in 2017, the number of producers has shrunk to just three, as the government didn’t keep their promise the second year, and many producers found the cost of production far too high to justify continuing in coffee. Thankfully, Jorge has persevered, and through receiving a loan from Caravela, he has installed his own manual depulping machine, right amongst his coffee trees. This gives him more control and autonomy over his processing, and ultimately his potential to produce high-quality lots, for which we are happy to pay a premium price.
The sole variety planted on Jorge’s farm, Finca Jesus del Gran Poder, is Typica Mejorado, of which he has around 2,300 trees. Now commonly found in northern Ecuador, it spread after workers at an experimental farm owned by Nestlé, stole seeds of a hybrid variety they believed to be from a Typica selection. Translating to ‘Improved Typica’ it is now, seemingly, a misnomer. After testing on leaf cuttings undertaken by World Coffee Research, the genetics show the variety is actually a cross between Bourbon and Geisha.
The particular location of Jorge’s farm, coupled with the fact that there are so few others growing coffee nearby, means he doesn’t have to battle with Broca (the coffee borer beetle) or Roya (a fungal ‘rust’), two plights common to the majority of South and Central American coffee farmers. Before the harvest Jorge will typically apply two fertilisations to the soil and use a foliar spray, having been guided by Ivan Renjifo, leader of Caravela’s PECA team in Ecuador, for whom we have great respect. Being only the third harvest for Jorge and his wife Hilda, who come from a background in rearing cattle, they are enthusiastic and willing to learn, with the goal of producing high quality, specialty coffee. Rather than carry cherries from the trees back to his house to process, all of the skins and pulp are left near to the trees after manually depulping the harvest. They seal the mucilage covered seeds into bags and ferment for around 24hrs, before washing in large ‘baldes’, or tubs. The water is then drained away overnight before the coffee is placed in the eaves of Jorge’s farmhouse to initially dry in the shade for eight days. To finish the drying process, the coffee is taken out onto raised beds under parabolic shade coverings for a further week or so, before the coffee is stored in GrainPro sacks until milling.
It was a real privilege to visit Jorge, and we hope to continue supporting his admirable work for years to come. Please enjoy this elegant coffee, with notes of apricot, cherry and lemon drops.
Lloa, Pichincha, Ecuador
Squeaky clean flavours of sugar cane & lemon drops run through a sweet, elegant cup. Notes of apricot & cherry blossom create a long, complex finish.