Fernando Trujillo grows Caturra coffee cherries on his farm, Finca Los Altares, situated at 1,800m in Tarqui in the Huila department of Colombia. Having past enjoyed some beautiful coffees from this region, such as Finca Las Pavas last year, it’s an obvious region to revisit when looking for delicious coffees from the country.
Cherries are harvested during multiple passes the pickers make through the fields to ensure optimal ripeness as much as possible. After pulping to remove the cherry skins, the parchment coffee and the surrounding layer of fruit mucilage is fermented under water for between 20 and 25 hours, to let the native yeasts and bacteria break down fruit sugars, resulting in cleaner parchment. After rinsing with clean water, they are placed on platforms under parabolic shade canopies to slowly dry, preserving the quality trapped inside the green coffee beans.
Fernando is just one farmer of 70 or so that are part of the Co-Central Quality Program that performs a twofold interconnected approach to improve both coffee quality and the livelihoods of those producers working with the co-operative. As well as technical assistance, such as agronomy training, following up in the field and providing access to fertilisers, Co-Central work to meet the societal needs of their farmers. Building infrastructure at the producer’s farm and house, offering life and natural disaster insurance, running an in-house education program, offering pensions and paying funeral bills are just some of the ways that farmers are supported, not solely in their capacity as coffee growers.
Almost as soon as we tasted this coffee from Fernando on our cupping table we knew we wanted to buy and share with you. Once we’ve decided to purchase a certain number of bags, in this case 12 sacks each weighing 70kg, we draw down from our coffee stocks held in a cool warehouse in Bury St. Edmunds, and the coffee arrives at our roastery in Bethnal Green for us to analyse and plan for the coffee’s release into our range.
The first thing done with every coffee received is to perform a few quality checks. We sort through a sample to check the size of the beans, the colour, the aroma and how uniform it looks in daylight and under UV lighting, making note of any defects such as chipped, insect damaged or discoloured seeds. One piece of equipment that has become invaluable in the roastery is our moisture analyser used to check the overall moisture content in a sample of green coffee. Filling a 2-litre graduated cylinder with green coffee and checking the weight then helps inform on the innate density of each particular coffee we work with.
The next stage is to roast a small sample of the coffee on a reference curve that we have saved on our digital sample roaster. If the beans come out particularly light or dark this helps inform as to the sugar content of the seeds, as more sugary coffee has the tendency to produce a darker colour when caramelising after first crack at the end of the roast. Once rested and the sample has been cupped we’re able to combine all the information on the coffee’s moisture, density, flavour traits and potential to darken at certain temperatures and formulate a roasting plan.
When the coffee has acclimatised in our green storage room and the roaster is thoroughly heated during a normal production day, we roast a batch charging at a particular temperature and making gas changes as we go, to see how the coffee reacts and develops when in the drum. By tracking all the data during roasting, we have a platform to build on once the initial test roast has rested and we start tasting it many times over.
All of this is to ensure that when a new coffee moves into production for our customers, we have created a profile in such a way that the innate and unique origin character of the coffee (the combination of variety and terroir) shines through into the cup.
Tarqui, Huila, Colombia
Pineapple and kiwi flavours add zest to a very sweet, nougat like coffee. A juicy body like fruit squash leads to blackberry and caramel notes in the finish.