This past January I went on my first origin trip, to the Antioquia region of Colombia. There I met up with a group of various coffee professionals from around the world to visit a handful of farms in hopes of finding some single origin coffees to be released (at Metropolis) this summer. Our guide for the one week journey was Pedro from Pergamino Coffee, which is where we purchase many of our Colombian coffees from already. Together, along with the good folks from Mercanta Coffee Hunters who organized this trip, we set out into the cloudy mountain terrain to see where the beans are born.
In Colombia, the coffee trees are often planted on steep slopes, making it impossible to harvest the cherries with machines. Instead, workers pick the cherries by hand and dump them down long pipes that run down the mountainside to processing stations (See photos on following page of this process). There, the cherries are fermented, pulped, dried and bagged up to be sent out to roasteries around the world. Growing alongside the coffee trees were a plethora of other crops such as plantains, avocado, cardamom, passion fruit and exotic fruits I had never heard of, like guanabanas and lulos.
Some of the farms were accessible by major roads, others only by steep, winding dirt trails. Each farm was unique, as were the families that owned them, and their methods for producing different flavors in green beans. For example, at Finca La Falda, Jose Arcadio ferments his beans for 8 days in cold water, changing the water each day. The slow ferment results in a balanced and unique flavor profile that earned him 7th place in the 2013 Colombian Cup of Excellence. The sample we tasted was buttery, tropical, floral, and complex, with a white wine-like body. It was everyone’s favorite, but unfortunately there wasn’t much available and it sold quick. We did however find some other equally tasty gems to bring to the Metropolis single origin menu this summer. So, look forward to the new arrival of Colombia Andres Giraldo as well as the return of Colombia Familia Gomez.