As with a lot of regions in Colombia, the micro-climate of the area around Planadas, Tolima allows farmers to harvest coffee cherry twice in one year, which helps a great deal with cash flow. The Asopep (Asociación de Productores Ecológicos de Planadas) Co-Operative, made up of 35 coffee producing families, all practice organic farming, being certified as such, and grow a real mix of varieties. The coffees making up this particular lot, El Teruel, underwent a 22 hour dry fermentation before being fully washed and subsequently dried for 60 hours on raised beds.
Over the last two years we’ve only purchased decaffeinated coffees that have undergone the Sugar Cane Ethyl Acetate process. Not only does this method provide a secondary income to the producing country, but the green coffee only needs to be transported once rather than twice. Obviously more eco-friendly and less costly, it has a huge impact on cup quality too. The conditions in which coffee is transported are rarely conducive to preserving quality, and so avoiding this process from happening twice is always beneficial for the cup. The coffee, having being shipped only once unlike most decaf options that arrive into the UK via Mexico, Canada or Germany, tastes all the fresher for it.
The cup quality is also very well preserved by the fact that El Teruel is shipped in vacuum sealed 12kg bricks rather than traditional 70kg sacks. A more modern approach usually reserved for higher quality lots being purchased by discerning clientele, it keeps the humidity of the green coffee more stable, protecting the porous seeds from absorbing foreign odours or moisture.
Asopep is made up of 162 members, 35 families in total. As well as helping the members in producing better quality coffee by training in post harvest practices, they also run a children’s ecological group and are able to train and certify cuppers as Q-graders.
The decaffeination plant, Descafecol, is located midway between Planadas and Medellín. As well as decaffeinating coffee they also have the facilities to produce instant coffee and a product called “Sugar Roasted Spray Dried Coffee”. Whilst we love the work they do in decaffeinating quality lots of coffee, it’s unlikely we’ll be sampling the other products from Descafecol any time soon!
Planadas, Tolima, Colombia
This decaf option makes for an incredibly sweet and aromatic cup, laden with chocolate and nutella flavours with a refreshing raspberry like acidity.