Our head of green coffee sourcing, Emmett, went to southern Colombia last year to pick out some interesting Colombian coffees. He was based in the Nariño region in the town of Buesaco. With Royal Coffee NY (importer) and Pergamino Cafe (exporter) they toured many of the farms in the region to get a sense of how coffee was changing in Colombia. In Narino coffee is everywhere, seemingly everyone grows it or is a part of the process. Every time you get in a jeep to drive to a farm there's coffee being dried on the side of the street or weighed down trucks bringing beans to the warehouse.
These beans receive special honey-processing to bring out their full potential. This lot from the Nariño region was grown by farmers from the Aponte microregion. It is rare to get a honey processed coffee out of Colombia.
It is nicely sweet and smooth -- a "soft" coffee that you can mindlessly sip at all day. This one has all the nice characteristics of a good Colombian coffee; there's caramel and milk chocolate. But because it was honey-processed their are undertones of fruit; cherry, winey acidity, with some stonefruit in the aftertaste. The fruity undertones are subtle but the coffee is sweet and pleasant and the hints of nuance make this a very drinkable coffee.
It also is an interesting espresso. At light roast levels, you get tangy fruits and crema without too much brightness. At just into the 2nd cracks, it is less complex but still has a lot of crema and a really strong chocolatey aftertaste. There are definitely some espresso blending experiments worth doing with this bean.
By definition, a honey coffee has had the sugars of the coffee fruit imbued into the pit during the processing, so it is a delicate bean that is susceptible to scorching. Home roasting units won't have a problem, but if you have a large drum roaster, don't preheat it above 350 degrees. Charging your drum too hot before dropping the beans into it will scorch them and ruin your batch. Once the roast is underway, nudge the heat up gently, evenly, get it through the 1st cracks, and it is done. If in doubt, err on the side of being too light although if you taste vegetables, you got it too light. Try to keep the roast at 15 minutes or less. We also turn the exhaust fan up towards the end which keeps the smoke from mingling with the beans and makes the coffee taste cleaner.
US Arrival November 2019
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