We enter a dangerous area to find this beautiful jewel from Southern Cauca. Bolivar has been controlled by FARC and the deadly effects that Coca has had on this entire region. It is exciting to taste the possibilities this lush landscape holds. New beginnings are rising on the horizon, lighting the way towards transitioning into a sustainable crop industry that is rewarding and has a network of support behind it. This requires social connectivity and civil infrastructure improvements, such as health, education, roads, energy, drinking water, sewerage and telecommunications that improve the living conditions of the rural population of Bolívar. It has not been easy and there will be many challenges ahead, but this coffee is a shining example of a bright future amongst a horrific past.
This year marks the first season Red Fox is offering coffees from Western Cordillera and the southern region of Cauca in the municipalities of Bolivar, Caibio, El Patia, Tambo, and Tororó. The department of Cauca is best known for its coffees grown around Inzá and the capital, Popayán, but this area is critically unique, as many efforts have been made to replace production of Erythroxylum coca (Coca) and Furcraea andina (Fique) with coffee trees. With this shift, changes in the structure of these communities have strengthened their value in the global market. The participation of women and young people have increased, new groups have emerged, and a democratic system has developed. It is important to recognize the indigenous people who strive to maintain peace within the country, as it is part of their constitution to be humble, hardworking, and politically engaged. Access to these areas have been made possible by the efforts of Comité de Cauca, whom also support Asorcafé. Funded by the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC), Comité de Cauca is a group with a mission to strengthen the welfare of coffee growers. Their main initiative is to strengthen the relationship between coffee grower and buyer, by understanding the demand for quality coffee and providing explicit details about the communities and producers we purchase from. Comité de Cauca works to serve coffee growers, creating infrastructure for a sustainable supply chain market.
John Fredy Dorado has been producing coffee for 15 years and owns a small farm in the village of San Antonio del Silencio. He and his loving wife Leydi Gallardo are raising their 5 year old son Marlon with coffee as their key to the future. John and his family are dedicated to growing quality focused coffee, as they are dependant on the income generated by selling their coffee. His farm, La Curva, sits 1830 masl, where he manually processes his harvest with a 34 hour fermentation washed method. His coffees are dried on raised beds under a parabolic covering for a controlled environment. John started his farm with half a hectare of Caturra trees, but the trees became infected with roya. This forced him to start experimenting with more rust resistant varieties. The most common variety found in this area is Castillo, a hybrid that has been cultivated for its resistance to la roya. Castillo resembles its parent variety, Caturra — relatively short in stature and high yielding, with a flavor profile that is sweet like blood orange and baking spices. Colombia is also a rust resistant varietal that proceeded Castillo in early attempts to fight against Roya. This cup offers crisp apples, fresh plums, and fragrant raspberry on the first sips. These fruits fall into heavy cream and butter cookies before leaving you with a spiced chocolate echo. Malic and Lactic, buttery and tart, it’s the comfort you’ll need as the winter blues start.
Nueva Esperanza Guatemala
For the second year in a row, we have the pleasure to enjoy a single producer lot from Santa Barbara. Although it may be one of the lowest income municipalities in Guatemala, it is beginning to be recognized as a standout micro region for specialty coffee. These producers grow less than one hectare of coffee which is often processed with a more rustic approach. Pick ripe cherries, depulp into a wet fermentation lasting for 36 - 48 hours, rinse and scrub to clean, before being laid out on small patios to sun dry. Due to the cold nights and steep slopes in the mountains, the fermentation and drying times are extended to create their unique fruit forward profile. This enables the coffees to get to a stable point before making its difficult journey from the rural mountain village to the more centralized dry mills. Coffee this good helps promote lot separation as a way to isolate quality that deserve premiums and showcase the beautiful individuality of the distinct micro-climates of this region.
Driving southwest of Santa Barbara towards San Miguel Ixtahuacan, you’ll find a mountaintop road that zig zags you through an isolated rural farming area. Perched atop its peak, you’ll find Julian Gomez Sanchez at his farm doing the same things that his handful of neighbors are doing. It’s a rugged area that produces some beautiful coffees. Julian has planted with Bourbon, Caturra, and Pache that grows in heavy clay soil amongst the steep slopes of the Sierra Madre at elevations of 2100 masl. Julian has produced around 1400lbs total this year on less than half an acre of coffee.
This coffee is loud, strong, and here to assure you that everything is ok! It’s uncharacteristic for a fully washed coffee to possess such intensity of fresh fruit. Rainer cherry, pluot, peach, and raspberry jam instantly greet you with such lively sweetness. Through this you will fly on interwoven wings of honeycomb and chocolate wafer towards a nougat sun setting into the depths of bourbon whisky skies. This fruit juice sparkles forever. It’s clean, plump, and loud. I hope you’re listening.