Returning to Colombia with Nordic Approach for the first time since 2013 gave us the opportunity to see just how much quality is being produced by farmers when tasting at cupping labs in Garzón, San Agustín and Tarqui. We’ve already been enjoying coffees sourced on that trip from Huila, namely Plinio Paz and Finca Tamana, and so it’s exciting to now be roasting coffees from Hernando Gomez’s farm, Bella Vista, located in the neighbouring Tolima region, just north of Huila. We ended up taking two lots from Hernando that continued to stand out on every cupping table they were on, as we really couldn’t pick between them. Both harvested from June to July in 2017 one is comprised entirely of Caturra and the other is Castillo, and due to Hernando’s impeccable processing of both, we are still unable to pick a favourite!
Caturra, a dwarf mutation of the Bourbon variety which has the potential for a really good cup profile, unfortunately, is susceptible to pests and diseases. Castillo, on the other hand, is the result of around 23 years of research and development undertaken by Cenicafe in Colombia to create a resistant variety. The variety was released for sale in 2005, and unlike Caturra is resistant to coffee leaf rust. Named after Jaime Castillo Zapata, one of the lead scientists at Cenicafe, the name itself translates to ‘Castle’ which seems quite apt for a resistant variety! A myth amongst coffee buyers is that Castillo has a poor cup quality, but with a combination of good altitude, crop husbandry practices and tweaked harvesting protocols, plenty of farmers are producing Castillo outturns which cup incredibly, even alongside the older, more established varieties.
Both coffees were processed by Hernando using a traditional disc-pulper, fermented for 12-14 hours, before washing and grading in channels. For 2,000m this would, on the face of it, seem a very quick fermentation time, but from the appearance of the green and roasted coffee, as well as the flavour in the cup, this processing style is working really well for him. Both coffees taste squeaky clean and transparent with a good degree of complexity. It is a testament to Hernando’s harvesting and processing techniques, as well as the reduced population of insects at 2,000m, that the coffee is impeccably clean and free of defect beans.
When making buying decisions in Colombia, Nordic Approach are paying premiums on the lots that cup at a higher quality level, all of which makes its way back to the producers. We’re really excited to begin working with Hernando’s coffee this year and are celebrating the release of these two lots with a launch of the book ‘Beber Mi Sudor’ by photographer Jake Green. The book is a collection of images, stories and interviews intended to give a flavour of the life and cycle of coffee production in Colombia, and features Hernando Gomez and his family.
Planadas, Tolima, Colombia
A juicy cup with plum, red apple and rosehip flavours. Resinous and herbal notes come out on cooling, with a finish like roasted hazelnuts.