I am excited to be roasting another years harvest from Gilda Carrascal, my fourth straight year. Every year I get the pleasure of developing this Pacamara from Ecuador. Pacamara, a hybrid seed variety of the Pacas and Maragogype strains from El Salvador, is a dynamic coffee that is rarely grown in South America. It wins award after award in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, so seeing it flourish in a new terroir is innovative and unique. This varietal has such a wide ranging flavor profile, that the complexity alone forces you into a place of contemplation and pleasure. Gilda owns and operates a 7 hectare farm at 1650 - 1700 masl in Las Tolas de Pichincha, where a break in the clouds provide adequate exposure of sunlight for optimum coffee production to flourish. Processing is very clean and simple here - manual depulping, fermentation in plastic buckets, washing in clean buckets and drying on raised beds. I have roasted every harvest she has exported and here in year four the output has entered the plants prime. This coffee is a true beauty.
You’ll first find rich honeys and chocolates jumping out of the bag. Pour water on it and apple blossom and papaya infused vanilla candy fill the air. Put it to your lips and you are met with an electric rain of tangelo, blood orange, and hints of mango. Clouds of chocolate mousse move in with flashes of lilac and sage. What’s remarkable is the softness of the body and smooth transition of focus of flavor. The aftertaste lingers with candied citrus and baking spices which entices you to continue drinking, even if your have to brew another cup. For the fourth year in a row, I have fallen in love with what Gilda does and what is going on in the mountains of Ecuador.
In the heart of Southern Colombia’s coffee region, where Huila meets Tolima and Cauca, we find some of the most treasured micro-climates nestled within the creases of the Andes mountains. This area is home to Colombia’s highest volcano at 5,364 meters, Navedo del Huila. Guadualito is a village with less than 10 structures scattered about amongst the emerald sea of coffee trees. That’s it! Hidden between Santa Maria and Palermo in Huila, we find Saul and Jose producing some of the finest coffee in the area. They tend to their farm planted with Caturra and Colombia varietals at 1700 masl. Caturra is a natural mutation of the Bourbon variety that formed in Brazil in the late 1930’s. Smaller, more compact, and higher yielding, Caturra was introduced into Colombia in 1952 and was widely accepted by most farmers by 1960. Today, nearly 45% of all coffee grown in Colombia is Caturra. The Colombia varietal was released in 1982 after five generations of successful crossings of Caturra and Hybrid of Timor, resulting in a high yielding coffee that shows resistance to coffee leaf rust. Rich in history, lush in agriculture, and steeped in tradition and culture, Huila is a shining example of the possibilities that the land and the people have, respectfully working together from one generation to the next.
As diverse as the landscape, this coffee has quite the range of flavors. Refreshing tart plum and tamarind provides a juicy start that falls into a rich and buttery body, like a pecan sandies. As the coffee cools, it opens up to show honeysuckle blossom and red currant floating through the finish. You’ll think you had cookies for breakfast.
Yanatile, from the Quechua words Yana (Black) and Ttili (heavy, thick) in honor of the ancestral observation of the river that washes the shores of the valley, is a land of hidden treasures and epic heights. The road there zigzags over rivers and streams while winding up and down the valley walls on a narrow ribbon of road that barely accommodates one lane of traffic, much less the two that actually use it. A grueling drive that requires constant attention and plenty of luck. Located directly west of Machu Picchu, Americo Astete Palomino does a miraculous job at producing quality in this sacred valley. Around 2000 masl, you’ll find this farm planted with beautiful Typica, Bourbon, and Caturra varietals that produced a total of 5 bags worth of green coffee. Equipped with his own depulper and tile-lined washing tank, Americo takes processing into his own hands to capture a precise representation of this mysterious land. The valley is arid and desert-like, creating an ideal environment for drying and storing parchment coffee. Times are changing from when merchants would come to town to buy coffees being lost in larger bulk blends to proudly coveting the beauty that Yanatile has to offer. Mr. Palomino, thank you for your dedication. Your coffee is spectacular.
With flavors cutout of the Andes Mountainside, this coffee has highlights and depth with hidden surprises as the cup continues to unfold. The aromatics welcome with the warmth of toasted walnut and the gentle floral aspects of black currant. Your first taste has the juiciness of red grapes and flavor of fresh figs that slowly drip with a dark honey viscosity. Mysterious and alive, the tart ringing sweetness echos with papaya and currant. At the center of it all, you’ll find elegant dark chocolate that tumbles around with creamy almond toffee. It’s almost like you’re floating down the Yanatile River while catching the moon shine through the mountains.