In My Mug
Episode 425 on Monday the 2nd of January, 2017. Christmas Espresso Blend.

Episode 425 on Monday the 2nd of January, 2017. Christmas Espresso Blend.

January 2, 2017
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It just wouldn't be Christmas without a Christmas blend now, would it?!

Now in its eleventh year (!!!), it's time to say hello to our Has Bean-y take on the best espresso you should be drinking this festive season.

This blend will only be roasted throughout the month of December so enjoy it while you can! For the first year ever we're offering our Christmas blends with all our grinding options, and also in 1 KG bags.

  • 50% El Salvador Finca Alaska Washed Bourbon.
  • 50% Kenya Kiriga AB Washed.

In the cup you really are getting a shot of Christmas! Dried fruit and rich fruit cake meet creamy blackcurrant, along with an edge of molasses and spice.

CUPPING NOTES

Dried fruit, fruit cake, creamy, blackcurrant, molasses, spice.

Episode 424 on Monday the 26th of December, 2016. Christmas Filter Blend.

Episode 424 on Monday the 26th of December, 2016. Christmas Filter Blend.

December 26, 2016
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It just wouldn't be Christmas without a Christmas blend now, would it?!

Now in its eleventh year (!!!), it's time to say hello to our Has Bean-y take on the best filter coffee you should be drinking this festive season.

This blend will only be roasted throughout the month of December so enjoy it while you can! For the first year ever we're offering our Christmas blends with all our grinding options, and also in 1 KG bags.

  • 33% Costa Rica Monte Brisas Finca Salaca Black Honey Typica.
  • 33% El Salvador Finca La Ilusion Washed Bourbon.
  • 33% Guatemala El Limon Black Honey x Natural San Ramon & Catisic.
  • 1% Reindeer Tears.

In the cup this is like sparkly snow coffee. There's lemon and white sugar with a hint of sparkling effervescence and cloudy lemonade.

CUPPING NOTES

Lemon, white sugar, effervescence, cloudy lemonade.

Episode 423 on Monday the 19th of December, 2016. El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Washed Pacamara.

Episode 423 on Monday the 19th of December, 2016. El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Washed Pacamara.

December 19, 2016
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Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello belongs to the fourth generation of coffee farmers in his family. His father died in 1995, and after completing his studies at university he had the opportunity to start working in the coffee industry at J. Hill & Cia in 2000. After five years he left J. Hill & Cia to begin his second experience at JASAL. Both companies gave him the opportunity to meet “Grano de Oro” from another perspective, allowing him to learn the art and passion of cupping. He says those are very important in his life, and that they give him the opportunity to apply his coffee knowledge and experience gained through the years.

During his time in the coffee world, Neto has participated in various events like the Cup of Excellence (National Jury from 2003 to 2011), Q Auction, Q Grader, and the Star Cupper program organised by SCAA and CQI.

The farm, Las Brumas, is located between 45 to 60 minutes from the City of Santa Ana. It has a cultivated area of 60 hectares' worth of coffee yield, all of which is at an altitude ranging from 1,450 to 1,700 m.a.s.l. It produces around 600 bags of coffee each year, and has an area of 35 hectares of virgin mountain at an altitude from 1,700 to 2,000 m.a.s.l.

The farm is located in the Sonsonate department near the area known as San Blas. Las Brumas has a very rich volcanic soil, deep and very fertile, which has been generated by different Ilamatepec and Izalco volcanic eruptions throughout its history.

One of the most important elements is the micro climate. It's very misty for most of the year, and that's why Neto decided to name the farm Finca Las Brumas. This amazing micro climate is generated when the warm air when the Pacific ocean collides with the high peaks of the Volcanoes Park (Santa Ana volcano, Cerro Verde volcano and Izalco volcano). Due to its location between these three famous volcanoes in El Salvador, this unique micro climate reduces the amount of daylight that the coffee tree receives. This helps the coffee tree to have a very slow photosynthesis, improving the maturation process, and this in turn improves some attributes that are closely related to maturity, like the aroma, sweetness, acidity and flavour.

This coffee was produced as part of the brand new and super exciting Las Brumas Wild Coffee Project, the project is to use land for coffee producing that's forest, but to do it in a thoughtful and careful way so as not to remove any of the flora and fauna and so the space remains primarily a forest. This effects the speed of the growth of the coffee (lots of shade) but also provides it with its own fertilisation system, with all the forest floor goodness, and the constant supply of twigs and leaves to continue to enrich the soil.

In the cup expect lemon citrus and a lingonberry jam sweetness. The complexity of this cup makes it take a left turn as it cools into chocolate and caramel, “hey Mr Beaver, why are you beavering around with this Cadbury’s Caramel sweetness and smoothness?!” (sorry an in-joke for those of a similar age to me!)

  • Country: El Salvador
  • Department: Sonsonate
  • Nearest City: Santa Ana
  • Farm: Finca Las Brumas
  • Farmer: Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello
  • Altitude: 1,450 - 1,700 m.a.s.l. / 1,700 - 2,000 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Pacamara
  • Processing System: Washed

CUPPING NOTES

Chocolate, lemon, lingonberry jam, caramel, Cadbury's Caramel.

Clean Cup: (1-8): 7
Sweetness: (1-8): 6
Acidity: (1-8): 7
Mouthfeel: (1-8): 6
Flavour: (1-8): 7
Aftertaste: (1-8): 7
Balance: (1-8): 6
Overall: (1-8): 6
Correction:(+36): +36

Total: (max 100): 88

Episode 422 on Monday the 12th of December, 2016. Kenya Kiriga AA Washed.

Episode 422 on Monday the 12th of December, 2016. Kenya Kiriga AA Washed.

December 11, 2016
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Well hello there, children. Uncle Steve has a story to tell you! So sit back, relax and enjoy the story of the Kiriga coffee estate in Kenya. :)

The first coffee bush at Kiriga estate was planted in approximately 1954 by colonial settlers. At about the same time, less than ten kilometres away along the same Kigio road, a young boy (Aloysius Gakunga, son of the chief for the larger Murang'a county) helped his father – Senior Chief Ndungíu Kagori – plant the first coffee seedling in the area. The area was known as Gaitegi village, Muranga Location 1 (Loco One). A love affair with coffee had been born!

Several years went by and the young boy grew up. He was riding his bicycle along Kigio road and, as he rode past the vast – by now well-established – coffee estates, he promised himself that he would one day own one of them.

He realized this dream in 1976.

Sadly the boy, or Mr. A. N. Gakunga, passed away in July 2014. By the time of his death, Mr. Gakunga had passed on the love of coffee, and the mantle of Kiriga coffee estate, to Dr. Brian Ndungíu Gakunga. Brian was his second child, and the eldest son out of his six children. According to Kikuyu cultural naming systems, Brian is named after Mr. Gakungaís' father, who was both his grandfather and his pioneer coffee farmer.

  • Dr. Brian Gakunga is a coffee farmer who is well known in Kenyan coffee circles. He is a founding member and a former long-serving Honorary Secretary of the Kenya Coffee Producers Association, which is a national farmer's organization that works to promote the economic and social interests of the coffee farmers through active participation in the national and international arena.
  • Brian is also a former Board Member and Chairman of Transitional Exchange Committee (operationally, he was the then-Chairman of Nairobi Coffee Exchange), where over 90% of all of Kenya's coffee is currently sold. He's also currently the Founding Chairman of Africa Coffee Farmers' Network.
  • Africa Coffee Farmers' Network represents the interests of coffee farmers, as spelled out in the organisation's core objective of improving the earnings of poor coffee farmers in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty. One way of doing this is by getting direct sales for the farmers.

The Kiriga coffee estate sits between 1,550 and 1,650 metres above sea level. It is approximately five kilometres from Thika town, which is an industrial town in the central province of Kenya. It's four kilometres from Blue Posts hotel, which has the famous Chania and Thika falls. Thika lies 50 kilometres northeast of Nairobi.

Administratively, Kiriga coffee estate is in the Gatanga constituency of Muranga county, and it's separated from Kiambu county by the Chania river.

Kiriga coffee is Arabica of predominantly SL28 variety (notable for its world-renowned cup quality). The farm has an estimated two hectares of Ruiru 11 variety (which has improved resistance to coffee berry disease and leaf rust); some K7 variety (similar characteristics as SL28, but with better resistance to leaf rust compared to SL28); and a field of the newest Batian variety.

All coffee activities at Kiriga are carried out from the coffee nursery to all the farm operations (pruning, weed control, nutrition, irrigation, basin digging, disease control, infilling, mulching, and planting). Wet mill operations are also carried out on the factory level. Kiriga delivers both parchment coffee and Mbuni (naturals) to the commercial dry mill for milling and grading, in preparation for sale at the coffee auction and in direct sale.

In addition to growing coffee the estate also has, I was told, shoats (sheep and goats), a dairy, and the potential to keep fish. It's all about diversity, and what's more diverse than a 'shoat'?! The estate is also occasionally visited by two hippos, in addition to some bird-life, while also being the home of a family of monkeys.

Kiriga irrigated all its coffee trees – despite the crippling electricity costs involved – during the dry season that happened earlier this year, in order to ensure their high standards were maintained despite the weather.

By the end of last year (2015) the estate changed the cycle of its coffee trees by removing the old heads and growing new heads, which in return gave a higher yield of bold beans with the characteristic 'Kiriga coffee characteristics'. Over 40% of the 'old heads' had to go! This is way above the recommended 25%, and as a result we expect to have decreased yield but increased quality.

At Kiriga they talk about having a 'Kiriga Family'; 30% of the total workforce is made up of resident families who live on the estate, and 50% of those know no other home. The remaining percentage consists of smallholder farmers who commute daily and depend on the estate for survival. There are smallholder farmers who have been part of the family since 1976 and have no desire to work anywhere else, commuting a whopping 10 KM (or more!) daily, past other estates, just to work at Kiriga.

Something really amazing I wanted to tell you about is the Kiriga Welfare Fund. In the past the estate saw its workers get turned away from banks when they tried to acquire loans for dealing with family issues or emergencies. To help his 'Kiriga Family', over the past year Brian has encouraged the workers to set up a welfare group with him as its patron, and Brian has provided money for loaning out to staff according to their most pressing needs.

Brian has also approached a banking institution to see whether they can fund workers to acquire dairy animals on loan and repay from the milk proceeds. Under such an arrangement, 50% of the proceeds would go towards paying for the loan. A market would be readily available and the remaining 50% would be extra income to the workers. This is ongoing and, if successful, it would have the effect of supplementing the workers' wages and greatly improving their quality of life.

During my visit to Kenya last year I was fortunate enough to spend some time chatting with Brian. I even managed to record some of it, too! Make sure to have a listen. :)

Has Blog: An Interview with Brian and Peter from Kiriga (Part 1)
Has Blog: An Interview with Brian and Peter from Kiriga (Part 2)

In the cup you can expect fruit – ALL the fruit! It starts off with blackcurrant and is creamy, smooth and balanced with a fantastic body and structure. Then there's a delicious white grape / green apple acidity, a whopping citrus delight, and a black cherry finish.

  • Country: Kenya
  • Constituency: Gatanga
  • County: Muranga
  • Nearest town: Thika
  • Estate: Kiriga
  • Farmer: Dr. Brian Gakunga
  • Altitude: 1,550–1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: SL28 AA
  • Processing method: Washed
Episode 421 on Monday the 5th of December, 2016. Costa Rica Vista al Valle Finca La Casa Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi.

Episode 421 on Monday the 5th of December, 2016. Costa Rica Vista al Valle Finca La Casa Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi.

December 4, 2016
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From the same region in Costa Rica that gave us the wonders of Finca de Licho and Herbazu (i.e. the Western Valley in Lordes de Naranjo, in case you're wondering), we're super excited to have Finca La Casa Vista al Valle back once more!

Located between 1,500 and 1,600 metres above sea level and owned in partnership by Oldemar Arrieta Lobo and Marlene Brenes Morera, the name Vista al Valle translates as 'view of the valley'. I'm sure you'll understand why if you take a look at some of the pictures on the left of this page.

Oldemar and Marlene are also processing this coffee through a virtually brand new micro mill, which is in only its forth year of production. They both learnt their skill while working for other people, but now they have a mill of their own. They own three farms; this one surrounds the home where they live, and the other farms are called Zapote and Fidel. Fidel won the Costa Rican Cup of Excellence two years ago!

The varietals on this farm are Villa Sarchi and Caturra. They use the sun dried processing method in their poly tunnel, and the Yellow Honey process.

In the cup there's sweet and juicy lemon but think cloudy lemonade / Lemsip rather than fresh lemon juice. The sweetness for me is white sugar and there's a hint of black tea, all finishing off with a red apple sweetness.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: Western Valley
  • Micro-Region: Naranjo, Lourdes
  • City: Naranjo de Alajuela
  • Farm: Finca La Casa
  • Micromill: Vista al Valle
  • Farmer: Oldemar Arrieta Lobo and Marlene Brenes Morera
  • Farm Size: 20 Hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 15 Hectares
  • Altitude: 1,500 - 1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: Villa Sarchí
  • Drying Method: Poly Tunnel Sun Dried
  • Processing System: Yellow Honey
Episode 420 on Monday the 28th of November, 2016. Honduras Finca Cerro Azul Red Honey Red Catuai.

Episode 420 on Monday the 28th of November, 2016. Honduras Finca Cerro Azul Red Honey Red Catuai.

November 27, 2016
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Cerro Azul is one of the Mierisch family’s newer coffee projects in Honduras. The name 'Mierisch' might sound familiar; they have brought us Limoncillo, Escondida, San Jose and Mama Mina, to name just some of their amazing farms.

The Mierisch family have been growing coffee for 4 generations, going on 5, in Nicaragua. They have achieved great results with their special way of farming, and more importantly by reaching out to specialty buyers and being at the forefront of coffee development.

This farm is a new experiment for the Mierisch family. They're going across the border of their mother country and driving six hours from their home to neighbouring Honduras. I spoke with Erwin a lot about why they had made this decision, and it came down to his experiences as one of the Head Judges for the Cup of Excellence competitions in Honduras where he had seen amazing potential, but also a lack of care and attention to detail during the processing stage. This detail is vital to truly special coffee, and Erwin and his family are some of the best-qualified technicians of processing whom I have ever met. A match made in heaven.

In 2011 they started the project of revitalising Finca Cerro Azul in the region of the National Park Azul Meambar in Siguatepeque, Comayagua, Honduras, across El Cielito, Santa Barbara. The farm lies on the other side of Lake Yojoa, and is blessed with micro-climates and conditions which are familiar to the family, as they are similar to their lands in Nicaragua.

But the soil is something else, as is the plant stock they have inherited, and this is the first production they have been happy enough to share with special international friends. We are some of the first to taste the fruits of their hard work and long drives to the farm.

In the cup expect a heap of cherrydark chocolate bitterness and a little bit of funky fruit. This coffee also has a delicate floral side, think Turkish Delight.

  • Country: Honduras
  • Community: Rio Bonito
  • Municipality: Siguatepeque
  • Department: Comayagua
  • Farm Name: Finca Cerro Azul
  • Farm Manager(s): Francisco Escobar and Lidia Zeledon
  • Farm Owners: Family Mierisch
  • Area: 135 hectares
  • Elevation: 1,450-1,900 m.a.s.l.
  • Diurnal temp cycle: Average High: 26 C Average Low: 16 C
  • Varietal: Red Catuai
  • Shade: Inga and Liquidambar
  • Processing Method: Red Honey

CUPPING NOTES

Cherry, dark chocolate, funky fruit, floral, Turkish Delight.

Clean Cup: (1-8): 6
Sweetness: (1-8): 6
Acidity: (1-8): 7
Mouthfeel: (1-8): 8
Flavour: (1-8): 7
Aftertaste: (1-8): 6
Balance: (1-8): 6
Overall: (1-8): 7
Correction: (+36): +36

Total: (max 100): 88

Roasting Information
Medium Dark - first pops of second as it drops.

"Quick Look" Guide
Cherry, dark chocolate, funky fruit, floral, Turkish Delight.

Good filter?
Yes

Good espresso?
Yes

Episode 419 on Monday the 21st of November, 2016. Costa Rica Monte Brisas Finca Salaca Natural Villalobos.

Episode 419 on Monday the 21st of November, 2016. Costa Rica Monte Brisas Finca Salaca Natural Villalobos.

November 20, 2016
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Back for a third year we have the coffee that in the past I affectionately started calling 'Monty Burns' : ) In previous years we've only had 1 lot from this mill/farm combo but this year we have 2! A black honey Typica lot that is available on our website and this lot which has been sent out exclusively to In My Mug subscribers and isn't available to purchase on our website.

So I think I should start by explaining this coffee's long and rather complicated name. The mill where this coffee is processed is called Monte Brisas, and the name of the farm is Finca Salaca. The varietal of the coffee plant is Villalobos, and the processing method is natural.

This coffee comes from the west valley in the region of Zarcero; both the farm and the mill are very near to the famous mill owned by our friends Gillio and Zarcero. The farm (Salaca) is located at 1,750 metres above sea level and is owned by Luis Salazar, who has a total of 12 hectares of land (11 of which are for coffee production).

Although the family have been farming for years, Monte Brisas is a brand new micro mill in only its third year of production. I visited last year. The family had the tiniest amount of coffee, and had already pre-sold it to another buyer. Luis promised he would have something for me this year, and the sample was waiting when I visited again.

Natural processing, well I could type a bit about what it's all about, or...I could give you a link to a sweet video! https://www.hasbean.co.uk/blogs/processing-videos/7476774-natural-coffee that's 1 of a series of 3 videos we made to explain more about coffee processing methods, I hope you enjoy it : )

In the cup you can taste that it's almost December, a very clean coffee where Christmas cake meets tinned prunes all sprinkled with brown sugar.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: Zarcero
  • Farm: Finca Salaca
  • Mill: Monte Brisas
  • Farmer: Luis Salazar
  • Farm Size: 12 hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 11 hectares
  • Altitude: 1,750 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Villalobos
  • Processing System: Natural
Episode 418 on Monday the 14th of November, 2016. Colombia Finca La Chorrera Washed Caturra.

Episode 418 on Monday the 14th of November, 2016. Colombia Finca La Chorrera Washed Caturra.

November 13, 2016
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This is our fourth year of working with this farm, but the first year's lot was so tiny it never made it onto the website and was sold as an exclusive to one of our lucky wholesale partners. Luckily ever since then we've been able to focus a little bit more on the farm: we cupped a lot more pickings and found a little more coffee.

Finca La Chorrera is located near to the city of Pitalito, in the south of the Huila department. It's in the valley of the Rio Grande de la Magdalena, known as "The Valley of Laboyos", which is 180 KM from Nieva – the capital of Huila. Pitalito is also the second largest city of the department of Huila, at approximately 125,000 inhabitants, and is considered one of the largest coffee producers in Colombia.

This farm is located on top of a mountain at 1,735 metres above sea level. The farm contains 70% Caturra (25,000 plants; this lot comes from them), 20% Colombia F6 (7,000 plants) and 10% Castillo (2,000 plants). The farm consists of eight hectares, six of which are planted with coffee. The other two hectares house the mill and inaccessible mountainous areas. The family house, which is also used for drying, is at the bottom of the hill at around 1,400 metres above sea level.

I took some amazing pictures on my trip in 2013 so take a look here, and I took some more on my trip in 2014 – find them here!

The farm is owned and run by the Claros family: Pedro, his wife Nelcy and their six children (Alberio, Edilson, Sandra, Hermes, Diana, and Monica). It's a real family business with everyone pitching into the farm to make it work.

Carlos sent us every day's pickings to cup and we bought everything that scored over 86 points on the cupping table; anything below 86 was sold for commodity. This meant we had to pay a premium for the coffee, but I think it's definitely worth it.

The drying patio was one of the most amazing things I’ve seen, with a greenhouse built on top of the house so that the coffee could be kept turning regularly but also to make sure no one steals it. The latter is not so much of a problem this year with market prices being low, but it was a real problem over the last three years. Of course, Pedro doesn't have to worry about market prices; he always get a premium because he consistently gives quality, but black market coffee goes to the highest market bidder.

In the cup this begins with a white sugar sweetness followed by a complex turn into the land of sweet vanilla marshmallow! There's even more complexity in the form of a white grape and green apple acidity, and a finish that's long and strong.

  • Country: Colombia
  • Department: Huila
  • Nearest town: Pitalito
  • Farm: Finca La Chorrera
  • Owners: Claros family
  • Altitude: 1,735 m.a.s.l.
  • Farm size: 8 hectares (6 of coffee)
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Processing: Washed
Episode 417 on Monday the 7th of November, 2016. Bolivia Estanislao Panuni Washed Typica.

Episode 417 on Monday the 7th of November, 2016. Bolivia Estanislao Panuni Washed Typica.

November 7, 2016
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This coffee comes from the town of Irupana in the Sud Yungas province of Bolivia, it's grown at an altitude of between 1,800 and 1,850 metres above sea level and is a mechanically washed, dry fermented Typica.

Estanislao Panuni is young, enthusiastic and a self-confessed coffee lover (just like me!) He started out in coffee controlling the fermentation process at the Coaraca Cooperative in Bolivia and it was there that he really developed his skills as a coffee producer. 2 years ago he decided he wanted to help his father and so moved away from his day job to take on a role producing coffee with his Dad, this coffee is the product of all that hard work, learning and family love.

In the cup expect orange Jelly Tots covered with white sugar, a floral honey-like mouthfeel and aftertaste mixed with cacao drops.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Department: La Paz
  • Province: Sud Yungas
  • Municipality: Irupana
  • Town: Irupana Town
  • Producer: Estanislao Panuni
  • Altitude: 1,800-1,850 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Typica
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Washing: Mechanical
  • Fermentation: Dry fermentation for 16 hours
  • Drying: African beds for 7-8 days
  • Coordinates: 16°27′58″S 67°27′17″O
Episode 416 on Monday the 31st of October 2016 Guatemalan El Limon Black Honey  x Natural San Ramon & Catisic

Episode 416 on Monday the 31st of October 2016 Guatemalan El Limon Black Honey x Natural San Ramon & Catisic

October 30, 2016
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I first discovered El Limon on my trip to Guatemala in early 2013, at the time we 'd never bought coffee directly from Guatemala; but since then this has become one of our strongest and most amazing relationships.

My friend Raul (who you may remember as the World Barista Champion of 2012!) in Guatemala had been buying coffee from these guys for a couple of years and was very keen for me to go and meet them. Located around an hour's drive to the east of Guatemala City in the small town of Palencia, this farm sits at an altitude of between 1,600 and 1,800 metres above sea level. It's owned by Guadalupe Alberto Reyes, who used to be the Mayor of Palencia and helped to build and develop the town.

Palencia is not part of the eight regions of coffee as defined by Anacafé, but you can see a lot of development in the zone, and this farm is a perfect example of that development. I like being in places that are working to be hot and up-and-coming, as well as those that are established players.

1 of the main reason I love El Limon is the desire to experiment, it mostly produces Bourbon and Caturra but also plays around with a few other varietals. The experimentation comes from the motivation of 'Beto', who has really focused on the farm in the last three years. He wanted to take more care in every step they take – from picking to processing, to shipping – and also take more care in the agronomy of the farm. This is very much a family affair; his wife and son also work on the farm, along with Beto's siblings. In fact, his son is studying agronomy at the local college for the benefit of the farm.

The dedication and care devoted to each step of production is reflected in the fact that they have built a new wet mill so that they can separate different lots and have control over the quality of the coffee. Previously the mill could process only one lot; now they are able to process many lots, and keep separate days' pickings and varietals in their own parcels. With this wet mill came another opportunity, which was for neighbours and people within the region of Palencia to bring their coffees to the mill where they could get them processed. Again, another sign that this is a hot spot for Guatemalan coffee.

As time moves on Beto doesn't want to stand still and is continuing to invest in the farm, recently he showed me lots of new planting during my visit, as well as a lot of building work around the wet mill. He is also building a QC lab and new accommodation for people working on the farm, it was a real hive of activity.

Beto and his family have always been the perfect hosts when I have visited the farm, they are such welcoming people and take great pride in showing me around their farm. 1 of the kindest things they've done for me is welcome me into their home when I am visiting, and they always prepare the most amazing meals! When you travel as much as I do, mid-trip you find yourself longing for something big, home-cooked and not from a restaurant or roadside pop-up cafe...traditional Guatemalan meals are just the ticket and I always look forwards to the food, but mainly I look forward to the company.

Purely as an experiment, Raul and Beto decided they wanted to try doing something different with a coffee. They tinkered with processing methods to see what happened and to see what they could get out of the coffee. When I visited they told me about it, and OF COURSE I tasted the coffee and OF COURSE I bought the coffee! Last year we had this process but with a Caturra lot, this year it's the same process but with a lot of San Ramon and Catisic.

When farms are processing a coffee, they use a depulping machine that removes the cherry and most of the mucilage. There is a setting on this machine that adjusts how close to the bean it cleans, and therefore how much of the fruit is left behind. The farms Raul works with in Guatemala have, when honey processing, typically used a middle setting (Red Honey). However, Raul wanted to try a Black Honey.

In Costa Rica, where these are most often produced, this would mean leaving all the mucilage and just taking off the fruit skin. However, when they have done Black Honey in Guatemala they have opened the depulper very wide, and some of the cherries have had the skin removed, whilst a few have been left intact. I guess this means it's kind of a hybrid Black Honey x natural process. These were then left on patios for thirteen days, which is about the same time that they use to dry their washed coffees.

In the cup this is a gooey black cherry covered in super high cocoa dark chocolate, that gooeynesscontinues in the thick mouthfeel and on the finish, sultana.

  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: Palencia
  • Farm: El Limon
  • Farmer: Guadalupe Alberto Reyes
  • Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: San Ramon & Catisic
  • Processing System: Black Honey x Natural Hybrid
Episode 415 on Monday the 24th of October 2016. Kenya Kieni AB Washed.

Episode 415 on Monday the 24th of October 2016. Kenya Kieni AB Washed.

October 23, 2016
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The Kieni wet mill is located in Nyeri in the central highlands of Kenya, at an altitude of 1,700 metres above sea level. It's run by the Mugaga Farmers' Cooperative Society.

Nyeri county has cool temperatures and fertile central highlands; it lies between the eastern base of the Aberdare (Nyandarua) mountain range, which forms part of the eastern end of the Great Rift valley and the western slopes of Mt. Kenya. Nyeri town (county headquarters) acts as a destination for those visiting Aberdare National Park and Mt. Kenya. It is in Nyeri county, at the Treetops hotel, (a rustic treehouse hotel) where the young Elizabeth went upstairs a princess and came down in the morning as Queen of England. Her father, King George VI, died on 5 February 1952, the night she spent at Treetops while on honeymoon.

Most of the coffee beans from Nyeri develop and mature slowly, producing extra hard beans. This quality is also evident in the cup. As a result, Nyeri is traditionally known as the heart of Kenya’s black gold coffee.

The coffee is mainly grown on the slopes and the upper plateau where most of the farmers' homes are located. The farms are demarcated into small family plots where each individual family looks after their own coffee.

The coffee is wet processed. It's pulped, fermented, washed and then dried slowly over 2–3 weeks, while the moisture content is reduced to 10–12%. The coffee is then delivered to the dry mill.

In the cup expect fresh orange juice-like acidity, with a lovely floral edge, and an aftertaste of rose water alongside a gentle fruit sweetness.

  • Country: Kenya
  • County: Nyeri
  • Mill: Kieni
  • Society: Mugaga Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited
  • Farmers: 905
  • Acreage farmed: 202 acres
  • Altitude: 1,700 m.a.s.l.
  • Coffee grade: AB
  • Flowering period: March
  • Harvest season: October–December
  • Average annual rainfall: 1,680mm
  • Average annual temperature: 12–27°C
  • Soil type: red volcanic soils that are rich in phosphorus, and which are drained well
  • Processing method: wet processing (Washed)
  • Drying process: dry, milling after the parchment has dried
Episode 414 on Monday the 17th of October 2016. Costa Rica Don Mayo Finca La Loma Yellow Honey Caturra.

Episode 414 on Monday the 17th of October 2016. Costa Rica Don Mayo Finca La Loma Yellow Honey Caturra.

October 16, 2016
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Right then folks, listen up!  Long coffee name right here so please allow me to explain!  Costa Rica (I'm guessing you worked this out!) is the country it's from.  Don Mayo is the name of the micro mill where the coffee is milled and processed.  Finca La Loma is the farm that the coffee was grown on.  Yellow Honey is the processing method (if you want to learn a little more about processing be sure to check out our processing videos) and Caturra is the varietal of coffee bean (more information about Caturra available in our varietal archive) See I told you it was all important stuff!

Finca La Loma is located at an altitude of 1,850–1,900 metres above sea level in the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica and is owned by Hector Bonilla and his family. We first had a chance to enjoy coffee from this awesome farm/mill combo in 2014, and I'm delighted to see it back for a third year. I came across it on my trip to Costa Rica in January 2013, because we were already working with the Bonilla family on coffee from the neighbouring Finca Bella Vista.

The Don Mayo mill is somewhat of a celebrity in the world of coffee mills, winning a beautiful selection of awards for its coffees which are bought by many top buyers from around the world and I am (of course) very pleased to be one of them.

In the cup this makes me think of a creamy apricot fruit smoothie, there's loads of body and the sweetness of brown sugar + a wonderful long aftertaste of lingering deliciousness.

  • Country: Costa Rica

  • 
Region: Tarrazú
  • City: Llano Bonito de León Cortes
  • Farm: Finca La Loma

  • Farmer: Hector Bonilla

  • Micro Mill: Don Mayo

  • 
Altitude: 1,850 - 1,900 m.a.s.l.

  • Variety: Caturra
  • 
Processing System: Yellow Honey and sun dried
Episode 413 on Monday the 10th of October 2016. Guatemala El Bosque Amatitlan Washed Red Bourbon.

Episode 413 on Monday the 10th of October 2016. Guatemala El Bosque Amatitlan Washed Red Bourbon.

October 10, 2016
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Bosque is a huge, special coffee that I love very much, and am super pleased to see back for a whopping 11th season!

I already loved this coffee before I got to try it at El Bosque. I mean that I was truly blown away with how good it tasted. However, my first visit to the farm in January 2007 made me love it some more because I got to meet the fantastic people behind the coffee.

Don Roberto and his two brothers have tried to move away from generic commercial coffee by raising their growing and milling standards, and you can really tell this in the cup. During another visit in 2009 I got talking to Francisco about the Bourbon, and I asked if it would it be possible to split the red and yellow beans to compare the results. Of course, I could only really ask them to do this for me if we bought all of the coffee, and we were delighted to do so. Nowhere else in the world will you be able to try this famous coffee using just the specific Red Bourbon varietal.

Julian Flores founded Finca El Bosque in 1932. The fourteen hectare extension of land was planted out with Bourbon varietal coffee, and the farm grew over the next few years with the purchase of additional land. Julian Flores died in 1947 and his only son, José Eladio Flores, continued in his father’s footsteps. In 1970, José bought another 23 hectares and planted the same Bourbon coffee varietal. Since his death in 1996, a third generation has taken charge under the direction of José’s widow, Martha Stalla, and their sons Julio, José, Francisco and Mario.

The first two generations cultivated and sold coffee in cherry form only. Now the third generation has taken care to innovate, and they have built a plant for processing the cherries in line with strict environmental guidelines. They have also diversified into growing other plants for local consumption such as avocadoes, roses and lemons, as well as growing a new grass innovation.

The El Bosque farm is located on a hillside running parallel to and a way off from the main road near the capital, Guatemala city. It may be jeopardized by urban development in future but, during the time we have been working with El Bosque, prices and returns for the farm have made it a much higher concern for the brothers, and they are very motivated.

This coffee is a world exclusive. We buy every single Bourbon bean from this farm. We also bought the rest of their coffee last year and, after the success of the year before that, we sent most of it off for decaffeination. We are the only people from whom you can get this current crop of coffee.

In the cup expect chocolate biscuit, a spoonful of brown sugar and a hint of green apple. With every sip you’ll enjoy the smooth mouthfeel and a lovely long finish.

  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: Aldea Loma Larga Mountains, Amatitlán
  • City: Municipality of Villa Canales
  • Farm: El Bosque
  • Farmer: Flores family
  • Farm size: 37 hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 14 hectares
  • Altitude: 1,400–1,645 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Red Bourbon
  • Processing system: Washed
Episode 412 on Monday the 3rd of October, 2016. Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Washed Red Catuai.

Episode 412 on Monday the 3rd of October, 2016. Nicaragua Finca La Escondida Washed Red Catuai.

October 3, 2016
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Finca La Escondida is close to Lake Apanas near the city of Jinotega, which is the capital of the department of Jinotega in the north central region of Nicaragua. The straight translation from Spanish to English of 'escondida' is ‘hidden’ and Escondida is called Escondida because the farm is 'hidden' from the road by forest and trees, which makes it appear to blend right into the side of the mountain.

As coffee farms go La Escondida is a rather young farm as the first trees were planted there only 10 years ago in 2006. La Escondida is planned around identifying the plots with individually different microenvironments resulting from factors such as soil quality, sun exposure and temperature range. This is one of the upsides of starting to plant a new farm.

This coffee is a Red Catuai varietal, which you don't see so much in speciality coffee. The varietal was selected for this farm because it was thought it would do very well with the identified soil quality, sun exposure, temperature range and weather conditions in particular, given the farm's quite exposed on the side of the mountain.

Catuai is related to Yellow Caturra and Mundo Novo, and it's a hybrid that grows best at 800 metres above sea level. It is mostly prevalent in Brazil and Central / South America. This is a dwarf variety of plant; it doesn't grow very high, and this is its most obvious distinguishing trait. Selected by the instituto Agronomico in the 1950s–1960s, it now accounts for 50% of the coffee acreage in Brazil and is widely used in Central America. It also benefits from the fruit not falling off the branch easily, which helps when there are strong winds or rain, or where windbreaker coverage is at a minimum like it is here.

Some of the downsides of starting a brand new farm can be that it may take a while for the quality of the cup profile to build up, it might take time to have the right facilities for processing and picking, and it might take time to train the staff for picking and processing. Not to mention that it might take a while to achieve the yield to go with it all. But this farm, for me, has hit the whole group of requirements running. As a result of their experience in the area, the Mierisch family have built a new mill with a huge investment, and they use some of the people already in place in the neighbouring 'San Jose' to blend together an Escondida team comprising experienced and new members.

In the cup there’s a liquid chocolate orange Club Biscuit (you know, “If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit, join our Club!”) Chocolatebiscuit, sweet orange, yum. There’s also brown sugar alongside both the taste and mouthfeel of melted milk chocolate.

  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Municipality: Lipululo
  • Department: Jinotega
  • Farm: La Escondida
  • Farm Manager: Boanerje Martinez Montenegro
  • Coffee Area: 92 Manzanas
  • Protected Area: 3 Manzanas
  • Elevation: 975 - 1,230 m.a.s.l.
  • Harvest Months: December-March
  • Diurnal Temperature Cycle: Avg-High 27C, Low 16C
  • Coffee Varieties Grown: Bourbon, Java, Caturra, Catuai & Laurina
  • Processing Method: Dry Fermented then Washed
Episode 411 on Monday the 26th of September, 2016. Costa Rica Arbar El Oasis Yellow Honey Caturra.

Episode 411 on Monday the 26th of September, 2016. Costa Rica Arbar El Oasis Yellow Honey Caturra.

September 25, 2016
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When we first found this farm in 2013 we had very little information about it; so much so that it didn’t even have a name! Back then all we knew was that the coffee was grown by Carlos Arrieta and it was delicious, but since then I've been lucky enough to visit the farm on trips to Costa Rica and over the past few years have found out lots more. Let me tell you what I know so far...

I first got to meet Carlos in 2013 at the exporter's office on the last day of my visit in Costa Rica. He arrived around 10 minutes after I had cupped the first table of coffees, where I had found one lot that was making me sing. It just had to be his coffee.

Here ensued the worst negotiation to ever take place in the history of coffee buying...

"How much do you want?" I asked.
He replies, "How much do you like it?"
"A lot” I say.
"I'd like a lot then please" Carlos says.
"OK..."

Luckily at this point a grown-up from the exporter's office stepped in and made sure I didn't give Carlos my house, car and pension plan. We agreed a price that rewarded Carlos more than he had ever gotten before and left me with a home to return to in Stafford.

The year before last I got to spend some time with Carlos and his family, I stopped for some lunch, hung out and asked lots of questions. First of all there's the mill, which is called Arbar and is very close to the house, it has drying tables and a small nursery but didn't have a deplulper (more about this later!) The mill was brand new and before it existed they would just sell their coffee to the local coop and so have no interaction with the coffee.

Then from chatting to Carlos I found out that he actually owns two small farms; this one being El Oasis, which provided the coffee we bought back in 2013. The farm is located in the Western Valley region near to the town of Lourdes de Naranjo and is located at 1,600 metres above sea level. It grows mostly Caturra and a tiny bit of Villa Sarchi, with plans to plant some small micro lots in the future. The farm produces between 700–1,400 KG of coffee a year.

Carlos runs the farm with his wife and children, Maria Isabel, Yesica, Karen, Stephen and Jose Ignacio. He has owned this farm for 16 years but only started processing the coffee himself in 2014 (while still paying someone else to pulp it for him (more on this later). He hadn't been able to present his coffee to a single buyer previously, so he would send it to the exporter we use in Costa Rica and thankfully that's how we found him!

You may remember that 2 years ago the coffee was priced a little differently; our normal, nicely rounded-down price was not there. The coffee should have been sold for £7.50 (we negotiated a small price drop from the previous year because we bought everything from both farms, and this works out that there are some economies of scale compared to the £10.00 of 2013), but we charged £7.88. Well, this was so that we (by “we” I mean “you”) could buy Carlos and his family a depulper for his next harvest. This meant he didn’t have to pay someone else to pulp his coffee, and he could gain more control of his amazing coffee.

You can go and see what your generosity bought as I lent the money to Carlos as I promised you would pay it back (and you did!) at the blog post here.

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Last year one of my roasting team Roland (of Roland's Daft Fact fame) travelled to Costa Rica to be on the jury for their Cup of Excellence competition, if you ever wondered what a coffee roaster from the UK would get up to if let loose in Costa Rica then you should have a read about his trip in Roland Glew's Costa Rican Adventure.

In the cup immediately this is sweetwhite sugar sweet like someone slipped a spoonful in when you weren't looking. That sweetness is followed up by apricot and a lovely velvety texture before shifting towards lemon in the finish, a super clean and sweet coffee.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: Western Valley
  • City: Lourdes de Naranjo
  • Farm: El Oasis
  • Farmer: Carlos Arrieta
  • Micro Mill: Arbar
  • Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals Grown: Catuai, Caturra and small amount of Villa Sarchi
  • Processing System: Yellow Honey
Episode 410 on Monday the 19th of September, 2016. Ethiopia Ana Sora Guji Natural.

Episode 410 on Monday the 19th of September, 2016. Ethiopia Ana Sora Guji Natural.

September 18, 2016
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This could be the start of something beautiful. This coffee represents our first attempt at working directly in Ethiopia; not only that, but the coffee's made by the first private estate from which we have ever bought in Ethiopia. Add to these points the fact that it's one of the most unique coffees I have ever tasted, and you can understand why I’m excited.

This private farm is owned by Israel Degfa, a second generation coffee grower from Ethiopia. The farm covers 250 hectares, only 150 of which are currently producing coffee; however, it is estimated that the remaining 100 hectares will be in full coffee production by 2018.

Situated alongside the river Turo, the farm currently only produces natural process coffee. However, in future the farmers will take advantage of the water source and the planned increased production capacity to begin producing coffee processed by the "washed process" method. Israel plans to build a processing station on his land by 2018.

It's a brand new farm, only formed in 2013, and it's located at a whopping altitude of between 1,900 and 2,350 metres above sea level. It is unusual to find private farms of 250 hectares in Ethiopia, and even more unusual to find them at such high altitude. The high altitude helps with the slower maturation of the coffee cherry, and gives more time for the plant to develop.

Coffee growing is popular in this area, and Israel hopes that the surrounding area will be populated by smallholder farmers who speak Oromife and are of Oromo ethnicity. Israel believes in helping these farmers through education in husbandry and also through financial assistance.

Cherries are hand-sorted for unripes and overripes before they go into floatation tanks, where the cherries are covered with water. Any cherries that float are removed. Whole, ripe cherries are then dried in the sunshine on raised African drying beds, which are laid out on hessian cloths for about 15–18 days depending on the weather conditions. The cherries are covered with plastic or shade nets during the midday heat and at night.

This is a unique coffee, certainly for its cup profile but also because of the cherries that contribute to the coffee.

In the cup expect an amazing Ethiopian natural that's so very similar to the Parma Violet sweets I loved as a child, while also being one of the cleanest naturals I’ve ever tastedBlueberry juice! It's so floral that it's bigger than the biggest bouquet of violets I can imagine. This is a truly special and unique cup from a special and unique coffee bean.

  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Region: Yirgacheffe
  • Area: Guji zone
  • Nearest town: Yirgacheffe
  • Farm: Ana Sora
  • Varietal: wild
  • Processing: natural
  • Founding year: 2013
  • Altitude: 1,900–2,350 m.a.s.l.
  • Producer type: estate
  • Farm size: 250 hectares, of which 150 hectares are coffee.
Episode 409 on Monday the 12th of September, 2016. Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Washed Caturra.

Episode 409 on Monday the 12th of September, 2016. Nicaragua Finca Limoncillo Washed Caturra.

September 11, 2016
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The story of Has Bean and Finca Limoncillo has been told many a time but it's 1 I really love to share, so much of where we are today has come from this relationship and I'm super proud of everything that's happened in the past + amazingly excited for where we can go in the future.

We first bought this coffee back in 2007 and back then it was as part of a buying group, I loved it from the first time I cupped it and it was a coffee I just had to get. It was only after the auction closed that I found out it was owned by a family in Nicaragua who are good friends and probably the only people I know from the whole country!

The following year I visited the farm with our importers and spent the whole trip begging them to bring the coffee in for us, eventually they caved in (possibly just to stop me pestering them!) and kindly did it.

This setup worked well for a couple of years, but we received notice a couple of years ago that the importers were not going to be buying the coffee any more, for reasons other than the cup quality. This led to some frantic phone calls and some thorough searching of the back of the sofa for loose change to fund buying 12 months' worth of coffee all at once. There were many many obstacles in the way of doing this deal, but we were lucky that we were able to pull everything together in a very short amount of time.

The upside of all this is that we now work directly with Limoncillo instead of going via anyone else, and it's a relationship I'm super happy to have. This coffee has gone from 1 off Cup of Excellence buy to a long-term relationship.

The farm is located in Matagalpa and is huge, at 171 hectares it's an amazing location and boasts 9 waterfalls within the farm. It's owned by the Mieresch family; as I have already said, they're good friends, and they're also well-respected producers in Nicaragua. They're known for their experimental processing, varietal work, and exceptional coffee.

The fact that the family are friends helps us drill down into the details of what they do for the people who work for them, and the information continues to prove to me that good people grow good coffee.

On the farm, the family:

  • Pay their staff 30% more than what is typical minimum wage.
  • Provide free housing, for 60 families, on their farms.
  • Provide free electricity and running water for their homes.
  • Provide free food for all workers.
  • Provide free day care facilities for families to use.
  • Provide free healthcare facilities on the farms.
  • Employ on-site teachers who educate the staff and teach other skills, such as pottery and weaving. The goal is to help staff diversify their skills. The teachers are also paid twice the wages they would receive in the cities.

The coffees we receive from Limoncillo are fantastic and they come from a fantastic relationship, Erwin has visited Stafford many times and it's always a pleasure to have him around. Last time he was here he ended up at a Weird Beard tap takeover in Manchester talking to 2 Weird Beards about crazy brewing / coffee farming ideas! A coffee from Finca Limoncillo (the Funky Red Pacamara) is used in 2 of their beers, Black Perle and Double Perle, mighty delicious beers!

In the cup this coffee makes me think of a toffee apple, on the front end there’s sweet sticky caramel which turns into juicy green apple with a hint of white grape.

  • Country: Nicaragua
  • Municipality: Yasica Norte
  • 
Region: Matagalpa

  • Farm Name: Limoncillo
  • Farmer: Dr Erwin Mierisch
  • Farm Size: 171 Manzanas Hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 109 Hectares

  • Harvest Months: December - February
  • Diurnal Temperature Cycle: Avg High 28C, Low 20C
  • Altitude: 1,200 m.a.s.l.

  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Processing system: Washed
  • GPS coordinates: N13 2.9569 W85 49.9756
Episode 408 on Monday the 5th of September, 2016. Guatemala El Limon Washed Caturra.

Episode 408 on Monday the 5th of September, 2016. Guatemala El Limon Washed Caturra.

September 4, 2016
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I first discovered El Limon on my trip to Guatemala in early 2013, at the time we 'd never bought coffee directly from Guatemala; but since then this has become one of our strongest and most amazing relationships.

My friend Raul (who you may remember as the World Barista Champion of 2012!) in Guatemala had been buying coffee from these guys for a couple of years and was very keen for me to go and meet them. Located around an hour's drive to the east of Guatemala City in the small town of Palencia, this farm sits at an altitude of between 1,600 and 1,800 metres above sea level. It's owned by Guadalupe Alberto Reyes, who used to be the Mayor of Palencia and helped to build and develop the town.

Palencia is not part of the eight regions of coffee as defined by Anacafé, but you can see a lot of development in the zone, and this farm is a perfect example of that development. I like being in places that are working to be hot and up-and-coming, as well as those that are established players.

1 of the main reason I love El Limon is the desire to experiment, it mostly produces Bourbon and Caturra but also plays around with a few other varietals. The experimentation comes from the motivation of 'Beto', who has really focused on the farm in the last three years. He wanted to take more care in every step they take – from picking to processing, to shipping – and also take more care in the agronomy of the farm. This is very much a family affair; his wife and son also work on the farm, along with Beto's siblings. In fact, his son is studying agronomy at the local college for the benefit of the farm.

The dedication and care devoted to each step of production is reflected in the fact that they have built a new wet mill so that they can separate different lots and have control over the quality of the coffee. Previously the mill could process only one lot; now they are able to process many lots, and keep separate days' pickings and varietals in their own parcels. With this wet mill came another opportunity, which was for neighbours and people within the region of Palencia to bring their coffees to the mill where they could get them processed. Again, another sign that this is a hot spot for Guatemalan coffee.

As time moves on Beto doesn't want to stand still and is continuing to invest in the farm, recently he showed me lots of new planting during my visit, as well as a lot of building work around the wet mill. He is also building a QC lab and new accommodation for people working on the farm, it was a real hive of activity.

Beto and his family have always been the perfect hosts when I have visited the farm, they are such welcoming people and take great pride in showing me around their farm. 1 of the kindest things they've done for me is welcome me into their home when I am visiting, and they always prepare the most amazing meals! When you travel as much as I do, mid-trip you find yourself longing for something big, home-cooked and not from a restaurant or roadside pop-up cafe...traditional Guatemalan meals are just the ticket and I always look forwards to the food, but mainly I look forward to the company.

In the cup this is a chocolatey wonder, it starts out as milk chocolate then turns towards a bar of Cadbury's Caramel. The acidity for me is juicy orange and the cup has a crisp clean finish.

  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: Palencia
  • Farm: El Limon
  • Farmer: Guadalupe Alberto Reyes
  • Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Processing method: Washed
Episode 407 on Monday the 29th of August, 2016. Bolivia Finca Don Carlos Washed Catuai.

Episode 407 on Monday the 29th of August, 2016. Bolivia Finca Don Carlos Washed Catuai.

August 28, 2016
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Due to the complications within the Bolivian coffee industry, many of the smaller Bolivian farms we have worked with in the past are no longer producing coffee. Whilst this has created some challenges for us, it has had a much more significant impact on our exporting partners AgriCafe, who have been working with these growers for many years. As a result AgriCafe have decided to begin farming for themselves, in an effort to demonstrate what can be achieved with the application of more modern techniques and a scientific farming approach.

AgriCafe now manage seven farms, and these are collectively known as the Buena Vista Project. Finca Don Carlos is the second farm of the project, and it was planted in Caranavi in 2014.

The farm is named in honour of Don Carlos, the oldest and most unconditionally awesome employee of AgriCafe. He was there at the start of the specialty coffee trend and, together with Pedro, helped to build the wet mill in Caranavi. To show their gratitude for all his good work, the company decided to give him partnership of the farm.

Finca Don Carlos is a very unique farm planted with all the care and dedication of Don Carlos himself. The farm sits at an altitude of 1,450–1,650 metres above sea level, and it is located in Caranavi, which is the capital of the Caranavi province in the Yungas region of Bolivia.

In the cup you'll find the same sweet, silky milk chocolate and hazelnut as in the Caturra lot, but here the volume is turned down just a little. My favourite part of this coffee is the rhubarb: it's like nibbling on a stick of rhubarb dipped in white sugar. It really slices through the milk chocolate.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Farm: Finca Don Carlos
  • Varietal: Catuai
  • Altitude: 1,450–1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing method: washed
  • Washing: manual
  • Fermentation: dry
  • Drying: stationary dryer
Episode 406 on Monday the 22nd of August, 2016. Costa Rica Zarcero Gillio Francesca Ferraro Yellow Honey Caturra.

Episode 406 on Monday the 22nd of August, 2016. Costa Rica Zarcero Gillio Francesca Ferraro Yellow Honey Caturra.

August 21, 2016
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This is a coffee grown by the amazing Gillio Francesa Ferraro, a mature guy whom I met on my trip to Costa Rica a couple of years ago. We have a rule at Has Bean that if you're over 40 you can be a character (under 40 and a character just makes you weird). Well, Gillio is the perfect example of a character. The first thing he said to me was that my belly looked as if I ate too much, and that I should lose some weight. I was in the midst of exercising and dieting; his brutal honesty was refreshing, if not a little quirky.

The thing that made me smile was that he was driving an old Jeep that was falling apart (he told me it was from the '60s). The best part was that the engine was a Dorman engine built in Stafford, UK. My father-in-law and two brothers-in-law all work at the factory, and it was amazing to be in a foreign location and see something so linked to home.

You might have looked at the name of this coffee and thought, "oof! Steve that's a bit of a long one!" but I actually cut it down a little from what it could have been, there's only so much space! Costa Rica I'm sure you can guess is the country and then Zarcero is the micro-region/canton of Costa Rica that the coffee comes from. There could then have been Finca La Casa which is the name of the farm and Gillio Francesca Ferraro is, as we've already discussed, the amazing fella that grows the coffee. Yellow honey is the processing method which is a variant of the pulped natural process, then finally Caturra is the varietal of the coffee. Take a deep breath and say it with me now...Costa Rica Finca La Casa Zarcero Gillio Francesca Ferraro Yellow Honey Caturra!

This is not your typical Costa Rican coffee. Forget all that has come before; this is a unique cup. It's a Caturra coffee, and is grown at an altitude of 1,700 metres above sea level. Gillio has 2 farms in Costa Rica, this one is called Finca La Casa (which just means 'farm at home') and can be found in the Western Valley area of Zarcero. The land around his house is rugged and difficult to farm. Gillio manages to get the very best out of it by working the land every day, even at the age of 83. I hope I'm half as active as he is when I get to that age!

In the cup this is very sweet and very fruity, think raspberries coated in gooey caramel. There’s a delicate satsuma acidity throughout the cup, and it finishes with with a hint of black tea.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: West Valley
  • Province: Alajuela
  • Micro-region: Zarcero
  • Farm: Finca La Casa
  • Producer name: Gillio Francesa Ferraro
  • Farm size: 2 Hectares
  • Altitude: 1,700 m.a.s.l.
  • Production: 150 bags/year
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Workers: 20 harvest pickers, 4-5 farm workers, 2 mill workers
  • Pulping: Penagos technology from Colombia – Fully Washed Mechanical elimination of mucilage
  • Drying: 100% “Yellow honey” process on African beds 
Episode 405 on Monday the 15th of August, 2016. El Salvador Finca Argentina Natural Bourbon.

Episode 405 on Monday the 15th of August, 2016. El Salvador Finca Argentina Natural Bourbon.

August 14, 2016
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We're super happy to be celebrating 6 years of working with Finca Argentina, and, once again, Ale's coffees are tasting amazing!

Two years ago Finca Argentina had a massive leaf rust issue, but it's great to report that the farm has bounced back and, although it's still not perfect as a whole, the farm is on the road to recovery.

The first time we came across Finca Argentina was via a very well presented sample that just landed on my doorstep. It came from someone who had visited the farm and offered to try to help find a buyer for them in the UK. We get lots of these, and we normally give them a try on the cupping table but find they are just not good enough for us to stock. This one was quite different: the quality was amazing. So initially we stocked it, although we knew very little about it.

Since that day, I've been to see Alejandro many times in El Salvador. During the last two visits I stopped at his house with his family and enjoying a day at the beach. Alejandro has also been to see us in Stafford twice. We have worked with him on projects (some projects were successful, others we will brush over); we have also told him what we would like to see from the farm (some ideas he took on board, others he didn't – he's the farmer, after all).

Most importantly, he has become a very very good friend, and he is someone whose coffee I love and company I enjoy. Alejandro took over running the farm from his father a few years ago, having returned to El Salvador after travelling around the world as an investment banker. A very intelligent guy and a very good businessman, he understood the farm needed to step up in work if it was to flourish: lots of work has gone into making this cup the quality one it has become. Part of this work last year was to separate the farm into tablons (the Spanish word for 'plot'). It was separated into eight plots, with seven of them growing coffee.

The coffee is 100% Bourbon, as 70% of plant stock in El Salvador is. This heirloom varietal is one of the reasons why coffee from this country is right up amongst some of the best in the world. They have the perfect climate and conditions for this low yielding, high maintenance strain.

The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range, and it's near the town of Turin in the Ahuachapán department. Sixteen people work on the farm during the non-picking season, maintaining and tending to the plants. This number of workers goes up to 50 people during the picking period. The altitude of the farm is 1,350 metres above sea level.

In the cup this is very much a liquid Terry’s dark chocolate orange. Plenty of dark chocolate and sweet orange with a great mouthfeel and good melty body. There’s cinder toffee and a little funky sultana on the finish.

  • Country: El Salvador 
  • Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain ranges
  • Nearest city: Turin, Ahuachapán
  • Farm: Finca Argentina
  • Owner: Alejandro Martinez
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Processing: Natural
  • Workers: 16 full time, rising to 50 during the picking season
  • Altitude: 1,300 m.a.s.l.
Episode 404 on Monday the 8th of August, 2016. Kenya Kiriga AB Washed.

Episode 404 on Monday the 8th of August, 2016. Kenya Kiriga AB Washed.

August 7, 2016
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Well hello there, children. Uncle Steve has a story to tell you! So sit back, relax and enjoy the story of the Kiriga coffee estate in Kenya. :)

The first coffee bush at Kiriga estate was planted in approximately 1954 by colonial settlers. At about the same time, less than ten kilometres away along the same Kigio road, a young boy (Aloysius Gakunga, son of the chief for the larger Murang'a county) helped his father – Senior Chief Ndungíu Kagori – plant the first coffee seedling in the area. The area was known as Gaitegi village, Muranga Location 1 (Loco One). A love affair with coffee had been born!

Several years went by and the young boy grew up. He was riding his bicycle along Kigio road and, as he rode past the vast – by now well-established – coffee estates, he promised himself that he would one day own one of them.

He realised this dream in 1976.

Sadly the boy, or Mr. A. N. Gakunga, passed away in July 2014. By the time of his death, Mr. Gakunga had passed on the love of coffee, and the mantle of Kiriga coffee estate, to Dr. Brian Ndungíu Gakunga. Brian was his second child, and the eldest son out of his six children. According to Kikuyu cultural naming systems, Brian is named after Mr. Gakungaís' father, who was both his grandfather and a pioneer coffee farmer.

  • Dr. Brian Gakunga is a coffee farmer who is well known in Kenyan coffee circles. He is a founding member and a former long-serving Honorary Secretary of the Kenya Coffee Producers Association, which is a national farmer's organization that works to promote the economic and social interests of the coffee farmers through active participation in the national and international arena.
  • Brian is also a former Board Member and Chairman of Transitional Exchange Committee (operationally, he was the then-Chairman of Nairobi Coffee Exchange), where over 90% of all of Kenya's coffee is currently sold. He's also currently the Founding Chairman of Africa Coffee Farmers' Network.
  • Africa Coffee Farmers' Network represents the interests of coffee farmers, as spelled out in the organisation's core objective of improving the earnings of poor coffee farmers in order to break the vicious cycle of poverty. One way of doing this is by getting direct sales for the farmers.

The Kiriga coffee estate sits between 1,550 and 1,650 metres above sea level. It is approximately five kilometres from Thika town, which is an industrial town in the central province of Kenya. It's four kilometres from Blue Posts hotel, which has the famous Chania and Thika falls. Thika lies 50 kilometres northeast of Nairobi.

Administratively, Kiriga coffee estate is in the Gatanga constituency of Murang'a county, and it's separated from Kiambu county by the Chania river.

Kiriga coffee is Arabica of predominantly SL28 variety (notable for its world-renowned cup quality). The farm has an estimated two hectares of Ruiru 11 variety (which has improved resistance to coffee berry disease and leaf rust); some K7 variety (similar characteristics as SL28, but with better resistance to leaf rust compared to SL28); and a field of the newest Batian variety.

All coffee activities at Kiriga are carried out from the coffee nursery to all the farm operations (pruning, weed control, nutrition, irrigation, basin digging, disease control, infilling, mulching, and planting). Wet mill operations are also carried out on the factory level. Kiriga delivers both parchment coffee and Mbuni (naturals) to the commercial dry mill for milling and grading, in preparation for sale at the coffee auction and for direct sale.

In addition to growing coffee the estate also has, I was told, shoats (sheep and goats), a dairy, and the potential to keep fish. It's all about diversity, and what's more diverse than a 'shoat'?! The estate is also occasionally visited by two hippos, in addition to some bird-life, while also being the home of a family of monkeys.

Kiriga irrigated all its coffee trees – despite the crippling electricity costs involved – during the dry season that happened earlier this year, in order to ensure their high standards were maintained despite the weather.

By the end of last year (2015) the estate changed the cycle of its coffee trees by removing the old heads and growing new heads, which in return gave a higher yield of bold beans with the characteristic 'Kiriga coffee characteristics'. Over 40% of the 'old heads' had to go! This is way above the recommended 25%, and as a result we expect to have decreased yield but increased quality.

At Kiriga they talk about having a 'Kiriga Family'; 30% of the total workforce is made up of resident families who live on the estate, and 50% of those know no other home. The remaining percentage consists of smallholder farmers who commute daily and depend on the estate for survival. There are smallholder farmers who have been part of the family since 1976 and have no desire to work anywhere else, commuting a whopping 10 KM (or more!) daily, past other estates, just to work at Kiriga.

Something really amazing I wanted to tell you about is the Kiriga Welfare Fund. In the past the estate saw its workers get turned away from banks when they tried to acquire loans for dealing with family issues or emergencies. To help his 'Kiriga Family', over the past year Brian has encouraged the workers to set up a welfare group with him as its patron, and Brian has provided money for loaning out to staff according to their most pressing needs.

Brian has also approached a banking institution to see whether they can fund workers to acquire dairy animals on loan and repay from the milk proceeds. Under such an arrangement, 50% of the proceeds would go towards paying for the loan. A market would be readily available and the remaining 50% would be extra income to the workers. This is ongoing and, if successful, it would have the effect of supplementing the workers' wages and greatly improving their quality of life.

During my visit to Kenya last year I was fortunate enough to spend some time chatting with Brian. I even managed to record some of it, too! Make sure to have a listen. :)

Has Blog: An Interview with Brian and Peter from Kiriga (Part 1)
Has Blog: An Interview with Brian and Peter from Kiriga (Part 2)

In the cup expect a lovely, lush and creamy mouthfeel, with a summer fruit kick of peach and apricot.

  • Country: Kenya
  • Constituency: Gatanga
  • County: Muranga
  • Nearest town: Thika
  • Estate: Kiriga
  • Farmer: Dr. Brian Gakunga
  • Altitude: 1,550–1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing method: Washed
Episode 403 on Monday the 1st of August, 2016. Costa Rica Don Mayo Bella Vista Yellow Honey Caturra.

Episode 403 on Monday the 1st of August, 2016. Costa Rica Don Mayo Bella Vista Yellow Honey Caturra.

July 31, 2016
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OK so this coffee has a big long name but it's all important information, we should break it down...

Costa Rica (I'm guessing you worked this bit out!) is the country it's from.  Don Mayo is the name of the micro mill where the coffee is milled and processed.  Finca Bella Vista is the farm that the coffee was grown on.  Yellow Honey is the processing method (if you want to learn a little more about processing be sure to check out our processing videos) and Caturra is the varietal of coffee bean (more information about Caturra available in our varietal archive) See I told you it was all important stuff!

Finca Bella Vista is located at an altitude of 1,900 metres above sea level in the Tarrazú region of Costa Rica and I first came across this coffee on my visit to the country in February 2011, I knew it was a coffee for people like me. The farm is very close to the Don Mayo mill and is owned by Hector Bonilla and his family.

This coffee is a coffee with a pedigree, winning the 2009 Costa Rica Cup of Excellence competition, and is one of the most highly regarded coffees in the Tarrazú region. There was a time when coffees from the Tarrazú region would fetch a high price on just the name alone. It's a super interesting coffee, but the quality over the past ten years or so has seen the coffee plummet whilst other regions (I'm thinking Naranjo and Central as ones that stand out) have raised their game. This particular coffee from Tarrazú is of a small minority that seems to be bucking the general trend and working hard to make the coffee as good as it can be. This coffee gives me huge hope for the future of Tarrazú.

The farm is an amazing example of how professional a farm and mill should be. Everything at the mill is impeccably clean, tidy and organised to the point of obsession. I think when it comes to running a good farm and mill it's okay to be obsessive about what you're doing. It's little things like hats for the staff working in the mill, labels on the lots that are clear and readable; they're all very small and tiny things, yet things that make the difference in quality.

This is the fifth (!) year that we've had this coffee after I originally found it while cupping around 250 blind samples in three days from a whole heap of farms. Some were just different days' pickings, some were different varietals and processes.

In the cup this is (for me) a glass of orange juice! It has both the texture and sweetness of orange juice alongside a really nice mouthfeel. That sweetness turns into a golden sugar sweetness as each sip progresses, finishing with just the gentlest touch of apple.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: Tarrazú
  • City: Llano Bonito de León Cortes
  • Farm: Finca Bella Vista
  • Micro Mill: Don Mayo
  • Farmer: Hector Bonilla
  • Altitude: 1,900 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Processing System: Yellow Honey
Episode 402 on Monday the 25th of July, 2016. Bolivia 18 de Mayo Cori Gill Washed Caturra.

Episode 402 on Monday the 25th of July, 2016. Bolivia 18 de Mayo Cori Gill Washed Caturra.

July 24, 2016
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I love a family link in coffee and this coffee has an awesome one, you know Teodocio Mamani from Canton Uyunense? Well this coffee comes from his son-in-law Cori Gill!

18 de mayo is a municipality of Caranavi (and part of Canton Uyunense), and lots of farms can be called a variation on these names because the land tends not to have a name.

Cori has been inspired and helped by his father-in-law to grow coffee, in an area that's very common to grow coca. In fact there's a coca plantation very near to the farm, as in...next door! 

He uses his father-in-law's facilities and expertise to help along the way, all the processing is done on the farm which is unusual for Bolivia, and then taken to the mill in larger lots for drying.

In the cup it’s a buttery affair in both mouthfeel and taste. Sure there’s loads of delicious milk chocolate as we see in our other Bolivians, but here there’s buttermilk and a wonderful creamy mouthfeel with chocolate bitterness on the finish.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Region: North Yungas
  • City: Caranavi
  • Municipality: 18 de Mayo
  • Owner: Cori Gill
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Processing Method: Washed
  • Altitude: 1,600 - 1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall period: Nov–February
  • Average temperature: 8°C ≤ 19°≥ 30°C
  • Soil type: clay and shale
Episode 401 on Monday the 18th of July, 2016. Kenya Othaya Chinga Natural.

Episode 401 on Monday the 18th of July, 2016. Kenya Othaya Chinga Natural.

July 17, 2016
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In 2014 I took my first trip to Kenya. My aim was not to meet producers but rather to get an insight into how the market works, and into how we can improve the quality of what we buy from Kenya. This is one project that emerged from the visit.

Much of Kenyan coffee comes from cooperatives, which means it's tough to go to visit a person or build a long-term relationship. That said, it is possible to get something interesting going and to work on projects together by speaking with the leaders of the co-ops and washing stations.

The Chinga mill is located near to the town of Othaya just east of the Chinga Dam. It's approximately 5 KM southwest of the town, and is in the Nyeri county part of Kenya.

The mill has some 783 members (587 male and 195 female), and each member only owns a small piece of land of an average 0.3 acres. They harvest the coffee themselves and then sell it to the mill, where it is processed and sent to the government auction.

The 'project' part of this coffee was that we asked the growers if they would naturally process a batch for us. They kindly agreed to do so, as long as we promised to buy it regardless of the final cup.

So it's a small lot in order to make sure that we didn't mess up. We also spread the risk with two coffee lots of different qualities; this is a NH that we have here, being screen 15 or above. They thought I was crazy because only the poor quality coffee in Kenya gets naturally processed, and they couldn't understand why I wanted only the best-quality coffee processed in this way. But they did it, and luckily for us it worked out better than we could have hoped.

In the cup expect the unexpected. There's a thread of blackcurrants all the way through, like you would expect from a Kenyan, but with a lovely big body and a liquorice flavour that reminds me of Pontefract cakes, whilst remaining incredibly clean throughout.

  • Country: Kenya
  • Province: Nyeri
  • District: Othaya
  • Affiliated to: Chinga Farmers Cooperative Society
  • Processing: Natural
  • Average rainfall: 1,200–1,500mm
  • Altitude: 1,795 m.a.s.l.
  • Drying method: sun
  • Harvest method: hand picked
  • Coordinates: 0°34'45.4"S 36°55'35.2"E
  • Soil: rich volcanic loam
Episode 400 on Monday the 11th of July, 2016. El Salvador Finca Argentina San Jorge Washed Bourbon.

Episode 400 on Monday the 11th of July, 2016. El Salvador Finca Argentina San Jorge Washed Bourbon.

July 10, 2016
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The first time we came across Finca Argentina was via a very well presented sample that just landed on my doorstep. It came from someone who had visited the farm and offered to try to help find a buyer for them in the UK. We get lots of these and normally give them a try on the cupping table, but find they are just not tasty or delicious enough for us to stock. This one was quite different: the quality was amazing. So initially we stocked it, although we knew very little about it. Since that day, I've been to see Alejandro many times in El Salvador, the last two times stopping at his house with his family and enjoying a day at the beach. Alejandro has also been to see us in Stafford twice. We have worked with him on projects (some successful, others we will brush over); we have also told him what we would like to see from the farm (some he took on board, others he didn't he's the farmer after all).

Most importantly, Ale has become a very very good friend, and someone whose coffee I love and company I enjoy. He took over running the farm from his father a few years ago, having returned to El Salvador after travelling around the world as an investment banker. A very intelligent guy and a very good businessman, he understood the farm needed to step up in work if it was to flourish: lots of work has gone into making this cup the quality one it has become. Part of this work last year was to separate the farm into tablons (the Spanish word for plot). It was separated into 8 plots, with 7 of them growing coffee.

This coffee comes from the highest part of the farm called San Jorge, which is about 3 manzanas in size and ranges from 1,300 to 1,350 metres above sea level, it's a very hilly part of the farm so is difficult to pick.

Historically, the Owner's Selection coffee came from San Jorge and Alejandro told me his grandfather used to reserve some coffee for his personal enjoyment, I find it interesting as from all the farms his grandfather used to own (over 250 manzanas of farm!) he picked San Jorge for the coffee he wanted to drink himself.

sanjorge_large.png?1620

The coffee is 100% Bourbon, as 70% of plant stock in El Salvador is. This heirloom varietal is one of the reasons why coffee from this country is right up amongst some of the best in the world. They have the perfect climate and conditions for this low yielding, high maintenance strain.

The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range near to the town of Turin in the Ahuachapan dept. During the non-picking season 16 people work on the farm, maintaining and tending to the plants. During the picking period this goes up to 50 people. The altitude of the farm is 1350m. The coffee is a washed process coffee, and is sun dried on patios.

In the cup expect huge milk chocolate, mixed with sweet caramel, and a delicate acidity of white grape and orange that lingers in a delicious aftertaste. A very easy drinking coffee any time of the day.

  • Country: El Salvador 
  • Region: Apaneca-Ilamatepec Mountain ranges
  • Nearest City: Turin, Ahuachapan
  • Farm: Finca Argentina
  • Owner: Alejandro Martinez
  • Tablon: San Jorge
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Processing: Fully washed and sun dried
  • Workers: 16 full time rising to 50 during the picking season
  • Altitude: 1,350 m.a.s.l.
Episode 399 on Monday the 4th of July, 2016. Costa Rica Sumava Monte Llano Bonito Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi.

Episode 399 on Monday the 4th of July, 2016. Costa Rica Sumava Monte Llano Bonito Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi.

July 3, 2016
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This coffee comes from a farm that's actually 2 farms, but the 2 farms exist as 1, but do produce coffee independently, exciting huh?

Overall the farm is called Finca "Sumava de Lourdes" Lourdes de Naranjo and is located between 1,670 and 1,790 metres above sea level in Lourdes de Naranjo of the Western Valley of Costa Rica. The farm is made up of 2 farms called Finca "Monte Llano Bonito" which has 9 plots of land, and Finca "Monte Lourdes" which has 6 plots of land.

On the farm there are 10 permanent workers who live on the farm in a custom built workers camp, all receive accommodation as part of their employment.

Finca "Sumava de Lourdes" Lourdes de Naranjo adheres to strict agronomical practices and ensure the minimum use of herbicides and pesticides. They use MM's (Mountain Microorganisms) and minerals from natural origins as much as they can for their farming.

It's a farm that enjoys growing many different varietals, if you wandered around the farm you'd see Pacamara, Mokka, SL 28, Geisha, Caturra and Villa Sarchi.

In the cup this starts out as dark chocolate and caramel, with a creamy body, but finishes on a crispwhite grape acidity with a deliciously refreshing apple aftertaste.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Location: Lourdes de Naranjo, Western Valley
  • Farm: Finca Sumava de Lourdes
  • Sub-farms: Finca Monte Llano Bonito & Finca Monte Lourdes
  • Altitude: 1,670 - 1,790 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Villa Sarchi
  • Processing System: Yellow Honey
Episode 398 on Monday the 27th of June, 2016. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelelektu Washed.

Episode 398 on Monday the 27th of June, 2016. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Chelelektu Washed.

June 26, 2016
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This washed Yirgacheffe shows the diversity of this amazing region which holds some of the oldest plant stock in the world.

Buying from Ethiopia continues to be a challenge for us, but the cupping table continues to show us some amazing coffees. However, buying through the Ethiopian Commodity Exchange continues to be difficult if you require some traceability or back story with the coffees, you have to become a detective...good job I'm becoming quite good at spotting the clues!

This coffee comes from around 600 smallholders who have approximately 2 hectares of land each and hand pick the cherries, and is grown at around 1,850 - 1,950 metres above sea level. These small holders then sell the freshly picked cherries to the Chelelektu mill where they are graded, sorted, depulped and then fermented underwater for between 36 - 48 hours, depending on temperature, humidity and other factors. Ethiopian fermentation times are generally longer than other African countries, as temperatures are generally cooler in the highlands of Ethiopia, due to Ethiopia’s more northerly latitudes.

Parchment is then sorted in washing channels, and placed onto raised African drying tables. The drying period generally lasts for up to 2 weeks, although standard drying is 7-10 days, until moisture level reaches 12% or lower.

In the cup this is very similar to last year; lemon with black tea and a wonderful floral edge, a super classic Yirgacheffe.

  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Region: Yirgacheffe
  • 
Area: Kochere Zone

  • Nearest Town: Chelelektu
  • Mill: Chelelektu
  • Varietal: Wild
  • 
Processing: Fully Washed dried on raised beds

  • Altitude: 1,850 - 1,950 m.a.s.l.

  • Producers: 650 farmers – smallholders with approx. 2 hectares each
  • Soil: pH 5.2 – 6.2, red brown, depth of over 1.5m
  • Rainfall: 1910 mm per year, 8 months rainy, 3-4 months dry
Episode 397 on Monday the 20th of June, 2016. Bolivia Finca Don Carlos Washed Caturra.

Episode 397 on Monday the 20th of June, 2016. Bolivia Finca Don Carlos Washed Caturra.

June 19, 2016
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Due to the complications within the Bolivian coffee industry many of the smaller farms we have worked with in the past are no longer producing coffee. Whilst this has created some challenges for us, it has had a much more significant impact on our exporting partners Agricafe who have been working with these growers for many years. As a result they have decided to begin farming themselves, in an effort to demonstrate what can be achieved with the application of more modern techniques and a scientific farming approach.

Agricafe now manage seven farms and these are collectively known as the Buena Vista Project, Finca Don Carlos is the second farm of the project and was planted in Caranavi in 2014.

The farm is named in honour of Don Carlos, the oldest and most unconditionally awesome employee of Agricafe. He was there at the start of the speciality trend and together with Pedro helped to build the wet mill in Caranavi. To show their gratitude for all his good work the company decided to give him partnership of the farm.

Finca Don Carlos is a very unique farm planted with all the care and dedication of Don Carlos himself. The farm sits at an altitude of between 1,450 and 1,650 metres above sea level, and is located in Caranavi which is the capital of the Caranavi Province in the Yungas region of Bolivia.

In the cup expect a lovely silky milk chocolate, with a note of hazelnut. The acidity all comes at the end as delicious rhubarb, but more rhubarb and custard sweets than a stick of rhubarb.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Farm: Finca Don Carlos
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Altitude: 1,450 – 1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Washing: Manual
  • Fermentation: Dry
  • Drying: Stationary Dryer
Episode 396 on Monday 13th of June, 2016. Bolivia Illimani & Villa Rosario Washed.

Episode 396 on Monday 13th of June, 2016. Bolivia Illimani & Villa Rosario Washed.

June 12, 2016
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In the cup you'll find chocolate and hazelnut alongside a hint of dark cherry, with a little cinnamon on the finish.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Colony: Illimani & Villa Rosario
  • Varietals: Caturra and Catuai
  • Altitude: 1,500 – 1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Washing: Mechanical
  • Fermentation: Wet
  • Fermentation time: 17 hours, 20 minutes
  • Drying: Mechanical Dryer
  • Drying Time: 45 hours
  • Processed At: Buena Vista Mill
Episode 395 on Monday 6th of June  2016 Wide Eyed and Legless Blend

Episode 395 on Monday 6th of June 2016 Wide Eyed and Legless Blend

June 6, 2016
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Coffee and cycling, they go together rather well don't they!  So it makes sense that there's a coffee just for the upcoming RideStaffs 2016 Staffordshire Cycling Festival : )

We were approached by the festival organiser to create a custom blend to celebrate the event and of course we jumped at the chance! 

RideStaffs 2016 Staffordshire Cycling Festival will take place on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July. The festival takes place across three days at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire, beginning on the evening of Friday July 1st and ending at 5pm on Sunday July 3rd.

There will be an exciting mixture of opportunities to ride, chances to watch the professionals in person through the races on site and on a big screen as the Tour de France gets underway.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

This blend consists of...

  • 40% Brazil Fazenda Passeio Natural Rubi
  • 40% Bolivia Finca Loayza Feliciano Ramos Washed Peaberry
  • 20% Rwanda Migongo Washed Bourbon

In the cup expect a sweet milk chocolate from the start, that takes a u-turn into a fruit bomb. Like a bike down a hill out of control the acidity kicks, of citrus limes and oranges and finishes with candy floss sweetness.

Episode 394 on Monday the 30th of May, 2016. Costa Rica Finca de Licho Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi.

Episode 394 on Monday the 30th of May, 2016. Costa Rica Finca de Licho Yellow Honey Villa Sarchi.

May 29, 2016
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So an old favourite returns in this Costa Rican Licho: it's a coffee that we first bought from a Cup of Excellence auction many, many years ago in 2007, where it finished 4th. This year we welcome Licho back for the eighth time and I'm super proud to offer it.

Licho is a coffee that I feel shows our development as a roaster over the years. First we bought this coffee in the Cup of Excellence program (a great way to meet a grower), then we bought it from an import broker; they helped us bring in this coffee because we are a small coffee buyer. Then we bought directly from them. Then, two years ago, I went out to the farm and did the deal on the farm with the brothers. I love the fact that last year I walked onto the farm after cupping a particular lot in the exporter's office, asked how much they wanted, and there was a short conference. They came back and told me, then we shook hands. Then we got back into the 4x4 and drove away. This year we agreed a European-exclusive deal with them for this coffee, continuing the close work we have with them.

We also agreed a price going forwards that is higher than last year's price, and we agreed to take an amount that's higher than ever before to prove how wedded we are to this coffee.

Grown by the Aguilera brothers in the region of Naranjo, in the volcanic Northern Cordiles corridor of the Western Valley, this coffee is cultivated at an altitude of 1500 metres above sea level. The varietal is carefully-selected Villa Sarchi with some Caturra (around 30%).

This coffee is honey processed, which is like the pulped natural method, so the fruit is removed from the seed of the coffee bush and left to dry. The main difference is that there is no water involved when the cherry is removed, so mucilage sticks to the bean. This can be dangerous, but it's necessary in these parts of Costa Rica where water is limited: in this area of Naranjo water is a precious commodity, so this method suits the location very well.

The coffee ends up clustering whilst drying because there is so much mucilage. So the coffee either needs to be turned regularly to stop this happening, or it has to be broken up. Over-fermentation can happen at this stage and you can end up with a not-so-good cup, but the Aguilera brothers are well-versed in this method and are some of the most skilled in Costa Rica.

In the cup this coffee is delicious and has become one of our most popular staple coffees year after year. On the front-end there's milk chocolate, then raspberry pavlova and a white sugar sweetness. Something that I'll always love about this coffee is the massive mouthfeel it has, melted milk chocolate all the way. It's smooth, it's creamy, it's fruity, it's sweet...it's super awesome!

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Farm: Finca de Licho
  • Farmer: Aguilera Family
  • City: Naranjo
  • Region: Alajuela
  • Farm Size: 28.00 Hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 9.10 Hectares
  • Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Villa Sarchí 70% and Caturra 30%
  • Processing System: Yellow Honey Coffee (Pulped Natural)
Episode 393 on Monday the 23rd of May, 2016. Kenya Kieni AA Washed.

Episode 393 on Monday the 23rd of May, 2016. Kenya Kieni AA Washed.

May 22, 2016
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The Kieni Wet Mill is located in Nyeri in the central highlands of Kenya at an altitude of 1,700 metres above sea level and is run by the Mugaga Farmers' Cooperative Society.

Nyeri County has cool temperatures and fertile central highlands, lying between the eastern base of the Aberdare (Nyandarua) mountain range, which forms part of the eastern end of the Great Rift valley and the western slopes of Mt. Kenya. Nyeri town (county headquarters) acts as a destination for those visiting Aberdare National Park and Mt. Kenya. It is in Nyeri county, at the Treetops Hotel, (a rustic treehouse hotel) where the young Elizabeth went upstairs a princess and came down in the morning as Queen of England. Her father, King George VI, died on 5 February 1952, the night she spent at Treetops while on honeymoon.

Most of the coffee beans from Nyeri develop and mature slowly, producing extra hard beans. This quality is also evident in the cup. As a result, Nyeri is traditionally known as the heart of Kenya’s black gold coffee.

The coffee is mainly grown on the slopes and the upper plateau where most of the homes are located. The farms are demarcated into small family plots where each individual family looks after their own coffee.

The coffee is wet processed. It's pulped, fermented, washed and then dried slowly over 2- 3 weeks, while the moisture content is reduced to 10-12%. The coffee is then delivered to the dry mill.

In the cup expect a super different Kenyan that's been shaken up with a Tiki twist. First thing you'll get is the huge mouthfeel. Then there's a big hit of juicy tropical fruit, lemons and oranges which finishes with a super sweet caramel acidity. A deliciously different Kenyan. 

  • Country: Kenya
  • County: Nyeri
  • Mill: Kieni
  • Society: Mugaga Farmers’ Cooperative Society Limited
  • Farmers: 905
  • Acreage Farmed: 202 Acres
  • Altitude: 1,700 m.a.s.l.
  • Coffee Grade: AA
  • Flowering Period: March
  • Harvest Season: October - December
  • Average Annual Rainfall: 1,680mm
  • Average Annual Temperature: 12-27°C
  • Soil Type: Red volcanic soils that are rich in phosphorus and are well drained
  • Processing Method: Wet processing (Washed)
  • Drying Process: Dry, milling after the parchment has dried
Episode 392 on Monday the 16th of May, 2016. Brazil Fazenda Passeio Natural Rubi.

Episode 392 on Monday the 16th of May, 2016. Brazil Fazenda Passeio Natural Rubi.

May 16, 2016
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The Vieira Ferreira family has specialised in coffee production for three generations and is now headed by Adolfo Vieira Ferreira, whose attention to detail and commitment to producing top class specialty coffee is second to none.

In order to guarantee quality, the farm employs a high number of skilled workers to carry out most of the production process by hand, from soil preparation for planting to hand-picking the ripe cherries. In return, the farm looks after its workers. Permanent workers and their families live on-site and are provided with schooling for their children, professional training and environmental education.

The farm also takes environmental sustainability seriously and abides by all Brazilian environmental protection laws. Its native forests are set aside as protected reserves and are often visited by tourists, school children and ecologists. The farm also regularly plants new trees, particularly around its water sources, in order to maintain the local ecosystem.

Passeio’s coffee is picked by hand only when the cherries reach an advanced stage of ripeness, to avoid processing green beans.

The farm cultivates several different varietals: this Rubi lot, a hybrid of Mundo Novo and Catuaí. This single varietal lot was harvested and processed separately from other lots, to maintain its own distinct characteristics.

In the cup think Kit KatMilk chocolate and wafer biscuit alongside cacao with a big body thanks to the natural processing. Have a break, have a Passeio Natural Rubi.

  • Country: Brazil
  • Region: Minas Gerais
  • City: Alfenas
  • Farm: Fazenda Passeio
  • Owner: Adolfo Henrique Vieira Ferreira
  • Varietal: Rubi
  • Processing: Natural
  • Altitude: 1,100–1,200 metres above sea level
Episode 391 on Monday the 9th of May, 2016. Bolivia Elda Choquehuanca Washed.

Episode 391 on Monday the 9th of May, 2016. Bolivia Elda Choquehuanca Washed.

May 9, 2016
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This is a coffee from a colony in Bolivia that we've not had coffee from since 2012/2013 (Bolivia Taypiplaya Jatun Kollo Mountain for those who remember!) and it's awesome to have something delicious from Taypiplaya back in 2016!

Taypiplaya is quite a small town in the west of Bolivia, 14km from Caranavi it was formed in 1962 and corresponds to the third section of the Municipality of Caranavi. The region has grown coffee since 1975, when coffee growing was promoted by the government and assistance was offered. The colony has a population of only 750 people, of whom 150 are coffee producers (each owning around 2-3 hectares) and so you won't be surprised to hear that coffee is the main product of the area! It's been that way for about the last 10 years and I certainly hope it's going to stay the same : )

Elda Choquehuanca produces coffee with her husband Felix and they source their cherries from the colony of Taypiplaya, every night from midnight to 0400hrs Elda and Felix transport the cherries the local wet mill at Buena Vista which is run by AgriCafe where the coffee is processed for them.  AgriCafe manage 7 farms in the area (including La Linda!) and help local farmers to process their coffee when they don't have access to their own wet mill.

In the cup this is like eating a chocolate digestive biscuit with a glass of apple juice! Up front there's a hit of digestive biscuit then the delicious milk chocolate I love tasting in our Bolivians, all finishing off with sweet juicy apple and more milk chocolate in the aftertaste.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Region: Caranavi
  • Town: Taypiplaya
  • Altitude: 1,500 - 1,550 m.a.s.l.
  • Producer: Elda Choquehuanca and her husband Felix
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Varietals: Caturra and Typica
  • Washing: Mechanical
  • Fermentation: Semi-wet
  • Fermentation time: 12 hours, 30 minutes
  • Drying method: Drier
  • Drying time: 41 hours
Episode 390 on Monday the 2nd of May, 2016. Colombia El Meridiano Rioblanco Washed.

Episode 390 on Monday the 2nd of May, 2016. Colombia El Meridiano Rioblanco Washed.

May 2, 2016
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We bought this cup from the cupping table, and sometimes that means we don’t know much about it.  First we find out it's really delicious, then the deeper digging begins!

This is a specially selected micro-lot of coffee from the Tolima region of Columbia. It comes from a small growers’ cooperative with only 58 members (this lot was made by just 20 of them); their average farm size is only 4.5 hectares, and collectively they produce approximately 1,000 bags of coffee per year. This is a great example of smallholders working together to produce amazing coffee. Want to know their names so you can thank them personally? Of course you do!

Gilardo Gutirrrez (and his cat), Jose Hernan Quintero, Heiber Hernandez Perez , Nicolas Hernandez, Jose Quiceno, Qscar Gutierrez Ramirez, Luz Dary Montiel, Elver Rincon, Heiber Hernandez Perez, Jose Gustavo Quintero, Jose Ider Zapata Quiñones, Jose Quicens, Didier Ramirez, Jose Gustavo Quintero, Eydi Johana Saldaña, Eydi Johana Saldaña, Alexander Vargas, Jose Onorio Quiceno,Elver Rincon, Elver Rincon, and Jose Qnorio Quiceno 🙌👏😄

Tolima is 1 of 32 departments in Colombia and sits between the big cities of Bogotá (the capital) and Cali. Tolima is a southern department, and the county it's in is called Herrera. Rioblanco is the nearest town to the cooperative. The farm, El Meridiano, is about 79 miles (or 128 km if you prefer) west of Bogotá.

The varietals are Caturra, Colombia and Typica. They are fully washed, and are grown at altitudes from 1,550 m.a.s.l. to 1,900 m.a.s.l.

In the cup expect a boom. Strawberry jam and loads of red fruit sweetness that's mixed and loaded with white sugar. More red fruit, think red acidity (strawberryraspberry and redcurrant) which finishes with a delicious and long lingering buttery aftertaste.

  • Country: Colombia
  • State: Tolima
  • County: Herrera
  • Town: Rioblanco
  • Farm: El Meridiano
  • Producers' coop: 58 small coffee growers called ASOCEAS (Asociacion de Productores de Café Especial de Alto Saldana)
  • Altitude: 1,500 – 1,900 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals: Caturra (70%), Colombia (20%) and Typica (10%)
  • Processing method: Washed in micro-mills at each farm
  • Drying method: Sun-dried in green-houses and on drying patios
  • Shade: 40% shade cover – Plantain, Cambulo, Chachafruto, Guamo
Episode 389 on Monday the 25th of April, 2016. Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama Natural Yellow Bourbon.

Episode 389 on Monday the 25th of April, 2016. Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama Natural Yellow Bourbon.

April 25, 2016
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This farm and its coffee sparked a massive change in what I thought I knew about coffee. I remember the first time I ever cupped this coffee: time stood still as the cup opened my mind to what great coffee is and can be. Gabriel, the farmer, continues to produce great coffee year on year. We have access to the best of the crop this year – and have had for the last three years – on a European exclusive. This is due to the special relationship we, and our importers, enjoy with Gabriel.

Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama has been in the Carvalho Dias family since 1890 and recently celebrated its 109th crop. It is located in São Paolo state, just three miles from the border with Minas Gerais state. It enjoys the typical characteristics of the mountainous Mogiana and Sul de Minas regions, and it's located at an altitude of 1,100–1,250 metres above sea level.

Gabriel de Carvalho Dias is one of Brazil’s leading agronomists. His family owns several farms, and they border each other in this area. With a total area of 417 hectares, Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama has a coffee plantation area of 165 hectares. Everything is done manually on this farm since its topography does not allow any kind of mechanisation. The mill is located close to the spa town of Poços de Caldas, which is 45 minutes away from the farm.

The Carvalho Dias family consider social and environmental sustainability to be very important. The farm has a programme of planting native species of trees to maintain a better ecological balance. There is also a school, a club and an official-size soccer field for the employees and workers. There are 47 houses, all with modern facilities. The wastewater is treated in order to avoid polluting the stream that runs across the farm. The farm has a small hydroelectric plant and only buys energy during the peak harvest. Some of the original Bourbon varietal trees are as much as 108 years old.

The beans are harvested on a sheet and prepared by the ‘natural’ process, where cherries are taken and dried in the sun (see here for a more full explanation).

In the cup you'll find walnut and dark chocolate alongside a white sugar sweetness.

  • Country: Brazil
  • Region: Mogiana (São Paolo)
  • City: São Sebastião da Grama
  • Farm: Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama
  • Processing: Natural
  • Varietal: Yellow Bourbon
  • Altitude: 1,100 – 1,250 m.a.s.l.
  • Owner: Lidolpho de Carvalho Dias and family
Episode 388 on Monday the 18th of April, 2016. Bolivia Finca Loayza Feliciano Ramos Washed Peaberry.

Episode 388 on Monday the 18th of April, 2016. Bolivia Finca Loayza Feliciano Ramos Washed Peaberry.

April 18, 2016
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The owner of the farm is Feliciano Ramos, who is 45 years old and originally from the city of La Paz. His father was a potato and barley producer and Feliciano used to help him in the production and harvesting. In 2002 Feliciano decided to move to Caranavi, which is located in the sub-Andes valley.

Initially Feliciano rented a coffee farm for two years where he began his education in coffee, but also began saving to buy his own farm. After two years, he bought a farm of around 10 hectares. Like many farms in Bolivia his farm doesn't have a name (most other coffees are named after the person that grew them (David Vilca for example)), but it is in the Loayza municipality and so is known as Finca Loayza Feliciano Ramos.

The farm is located on top of a small mountain, looking out towards the high snowy peaks of the Andes. Finca Loayza Feliciano Ramos only had 2 hectares of old coffee plantations, but Feliciano has continued to raise this number whenever he is able to by planting new stock, selecting different varietals according to the terrain.

Feliciano is married to Tomasa Condori and they have 5 children who are all of school age, but they help their parents with the farm after school (imagine that as a chore after school, makes loading the dishwasher seem like a breeze!) Coffee is the only source of money for the family, and so for them it's very important that they continue to produce great coffee.

In the region of Caranavi and the Yungas valleys there is a serious problem of coffee being ripped out and coca leaf planted (which is legal in Bolivia), but this has a big environmental impact on the soil, forests, and the communities.  However, coffee is seen as a good alternative to this if good prices can be achieved with it, and it is also much kinder to the environment. With this in mind, Feliciano is in his second year of being organic certified, although we chose not to take the certification.

This coffee is sold as a washed coffee, and I guess it is. Washed coffee is normally placed in a fermentation tank to remove the sticky layer on the outside of the seed after removing the fruit. This coffee has been dry fermented, then it has been through a pulping machine a second time using the scrubber part of the pulper, then finally left to dry like a pulped natural would be, just without most of the mucilage. It's a hybrid process, and I really like the final result.

Times are tough for coffee farmers in Bolivia at the moment and Feliciano's yields are massively down, leaf rust is a huge problem. Feliciano has moved his family and himself off the farm, so his wife can work, and he commutes to the farm. Not because he wants to but because this is the only way he can make it work. I wouldn't be surprised to see Feliciano stop growing coffee in the near future unless something changes. To get great coffee out of Bolivia this year has been much harder than normal, and this has meant paying much more for it, but we think it's absolutely worth every penny. 

In the cup it's a very deep and complex coffee, where cherry cola meets key lime pie. Add to this thesweetness coming from a mixture of caramel and dark chocolate that just carries on in the aftertaste. A unique Bolivian.

  • Farm: Finca Loayza
  • Farmer: Feliciano Ramos Aruquipa
  • City: Caranavi
  • Region: Franja se los Yungas
  • Country: Bolivia
  • Farm size: 10.00 Hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 8.00 Hectares
  • Altitude: 1,635 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Peaberry
  • Type of soil: Clay
  • Type of shade: orange, mandarin, and Inga (Sinquili) trees
  • Processing system: Washed (on-site wet processing, solar drying)
Episode 387 on Monday the 11th of April, 2016. El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Washed Bourbon.

Episode 387 on Monday the 11th of April, 2016. El Salvador Finca Las Brumas Washed Bourbon.

April 10, 2016
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Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello belongs to the fourth generation of coffee farmers in his family, after the death of his Father in 1995. In 2000 after completing his studies at university he had the opportunity to start working in the coffee industry at J. Hill & Cia, after five years there he left J. Hill & Cia. to begin his second experience at JASAL, both companies gave him the opportunity to meet “Grano de Oro” from another perspective, allowing him to learn the art and passion of cupping, which he says is very important in his life and gives him the opportunity to apply his coffee knowledge and experiences gained through the years. During his time in the coffee world Neto has participated in various events like the Cup of Excellence (National Jury from 2003 to 2011), Q Auction, Q Grader and Star Cupper program organized by SCAA and CQI.

The farm “Las Brumas” is located between 45 to 60 minutes from the City of Santa Ana, with a cultivated area of 60 hectares of coffee yield at a altitude ranging from 1,450 to 1,700 m.a.s.l. that produces around 600 bags of coffee each year, and an area of 35 hectares of virgin mountain at an altitude from 1,700 to 2,000 m.a.s.l.

The farm is located in the Sonsonate Department near the area known as San Blas.  Las Brumas has a very rich volcanic soil, deep and very fertile which have been generated by different Ilamatepec volcano eruptions and Izalco to throughout its history.  One of the most important elements is the micro climate, it's very misty for most of the year and that's why Neto decided to name the farm Finca Las Brumas, this amazing micro climate is generated when the warm air from the Pacific Ocean collides with the high peaks of the Volcanoes Park (Santa Ana Volcano, Cerro Verde Volcano and Izalco Volcano), by being located between these 3 famous volcanoes in El Salvador this unique micro climate reduces the amount of daylight received by the coffee tree helping to have a very slow photosynthesis, improving the maturation process and this in turn improves some attributes which are closely related to maturity like the aroma, sweetness, acidity and flavor.

In the cup there’s plenty of dark chocolate accompanied by hazelnut, if you close your eyes and think of a dark chocolate Brazil nut you won’t be far off! There’s also a slight hint of green apple acidity on the finish that rounds out a delicious cup.

  • Country: El Salvador
  • Department: Sonsonate
  • Nearest City: Santa Ana
  • Farm: Finca Las Brumas
  • Farmer: Juan Jose Ernesto Menéndez Argüello
  • Altitude: 1,450 - 1,700 m.a.s.l. / 1,700 - 2,000 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Bourbón
  • Processing System: Washed
Episode 386 on Monday the 4th of April, 2016. Bolivia Teodocio Mamani Washed Typica.

Episode 386 on Monday the 4th of April, 2016. Bolivia Teodocio Mamani Washed Typica.

April 3, 2016
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I first met Teodocio Mamani on my visit to Bolivia in 2012. Long story short: he's an amazing guy. We got talking about the photo we had of him in a Chelsea shirt, and then of course we started talking football. He had the Chelsea shirt because he played for a local team that played in blue, but I managed to convince him that he needed a shirt from a real team so I sent him a Sunderland shirt. It's amazing to think that was so long ago and this year I'm super happy to welcome this coffee back for its fourth year!

Canton Uyunense is a municipality of Caranavi, and lots of farms can be called a variation on that name. This is a super small lot coming from just 6,000 plants on 2 hectares of land. It's a mixture of Catuai and Typica varietals (this is from the Typica), both red and yellow. Teodocio also has one hectare of land that is natural forest reserve, in which he owns a house where he lives with his wife and two children. He is also planting a new area which we should see start to produce coffee in the next couple of years (and I can't wait!).

This year is the third year that Teodocio has processed the majority of his coffee on the farm, which for me is super exciting. He used a depulper that removes the cherry, then left the cherry to go through a dry fermentation process (aerobic) for 16 hours, and then ran it through the scrubber section of the pulper to remove the final remains of the mucilage. He then transferred the coffee to raised African beds where it dried in around 12 days (depending on local weather conditions).

I was talking to the exporter about Teodocio's picking methods and he was explaining that the family uses a method called Ayne. With this method the most mature fruits are harvested each day, demanding the labour of 8–10 people (who are all family members in this case) to selectively pick, and pick correctly. But because of this he gets more coffee he can sell as specialty, and the cup profile improves too. Teodocio is just as passionate about improving the cup quality as he is about his football!

In the cup this is a really unique coffee, with effervescent blackcurrant (think sherbet) alongside lime zest acidity and an amazing floral finish. Every time I look at this coffee I find different fruit notes, a fruit bowl in a cup.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Region: North Yungas
  • City: Caranavi
  • Farm: Teodocio Mamani
  • Varietal: Typica
  • Altitude: 1,250 – 1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing: Washed (mechanically scrubbed)
  • Rainfall period: Nov–February
  • Average temperature: 8°C ≤ 19°≥ 30°C
  • Soil type: clay and shale
  • Other crops grown: citrus fruits (orange, tangerine), avocado
Episode 385 on Monday the 28th of March, 2016. Indian Bibi Peaberry Bold Washed Catucai.

Episode 385 on Monday the 28th of March, 2016. Indian Bibi Peaberry Bold Washed Catucai.

March 27, 2016
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Five hours' drive towards the coast from Bangalore lies the small town of Suntikoppa (population: 20,000), among the Coorg Hills of southern India. This is the heart of the coffee growing area in Karnataka state, and all around lie small-to-medium sized farms. Located at 600-800 metres above sea level in these fertile hills is Faiz Moosakutty’s Bibi plantation.

The 250 acre plantation has been in the Moosakutty family since 1960, and it is named after Faiz’s mother. Faiz took over in 1990 and has since embarked on replanting the entire estate, aiming to create a model coffee farm. This process is now 98% complete and the Bibi plantation produces some of the region’s finest coffee. Faiz lives on the farm with his wife, Sonia, and their two children – Rihan and Tara.

Faiz does not cut corners and runs his farm in an environmentally and socially responsible way. The coffee is grown in the shade of indigenous silver oaks, jungle figs and rosewood trees, which provide habitat for a vast array of bird and insect life, and also the occasional elephant from the nearby forest!

While the estate is not officially certified organic, no chemical weed killers are used. Instead, weeds are removed by hand so that the cut plants form a natural green compost. Micronutrients, manure and compost produced from the skins of pulped coffee cherries are important and organic fertilisers widely used on the estate.

Some 100 people work on the plantation, around half of whom live on-site. The farm provides free electricity, free housing and free medical assistance. Faiz also offers interest free loans to assist with the education of workers’ children, and pay-back schedules are kept flexible and worked out on a case-by-case basis. As Faiz told us on a recent visit to London, ‘It is a big responsibility – like looking after a family of 100 people!’

In the cup expect bold flavoursbig body, and a chewy mouthfeel. There's leather / tobacco to start, but then there’s a sweetness and nuttiness that takes over in the aftertaste, which goes on and on.

  • Country: India
  • Region: Karnataka State
  • Town/City: Sunticoppa
  • Farm: Bibi Plantation
  • Varietal: Red Catucaí
  • Processing: Fully Washed and dried on patio
  • Altitude: 600 - 800 metres above sea level
  • Owner: Faiz Moosakutty & family
Episode 384 on Monday the 21st of March, 2016. El Salvador Finca Siberia Honey Bourbon.

Episode 384 on Monday the 21st of March, 2016. El Salvador Finca Siberia Honey Bourbon.

March 20, 2016
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Back in 1870, Fabio Morán and Etifanio Silva decided to conquer this hostile territory, sowing coffee trees in one of the highest summits of the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range. They named the 28 hectares of land Siberia for its chaotic weather conditions along with its difficult accessibility: very apt really. One century later, Rafael Silva inherited the property. It is located at 1,450 metres above sea level.

It is shade-grown only coffee, of which we have two varieties; 75% Bourbon, and 25% Pacamara (this is a 100% Bourbon lot).

The name Rafael Silva might be a familiar one to lovers of El Salvadorian coffee. Rafael and Carmen are the owners of one of my favourite coffees: La Fany. I visited both La Fany and Siberia farms with Rafael and Carmen back in 2007; I stocked this coffee and loved it. But it fell off our radar a little. El Salvador is somewhere we have worked very hard, and we have some amazing friends and coffees, but somehow Siberia farm got lost.

Fast forward to 2012 and the Cup of Excellence. This sample hit our table and we were wowed, really wowed. So much so that we bought it at a crazy price, and this coffee retailed at £12 a bag. You snapped it up. We raved about it and thought it only right to follow up on it. In fact the Siberia farm has been highly decorated; it's been among the Cup of Excellence winners in the years 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2012.

So on my visit to El Salvador, Rafael and Carmen very kindly gave me a day of their time and took me to see their lovely new mill. We cupped some coffees and talked about how we could make sure we had coffee from Siberia farm this year, and also in future.

Siberia farm is located in the Cerro El Aguila canton, between Santa Ana and Chalchuapa, in the region of Santa Ana and the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range. This estate is exactly at the other side of the mountain from the La Fany estate, which we love so much.

In the cup there's plenty of milk chocolate as you'd expect to see from El Salvador and it's accompanied by roasted nuts and what I can only describe as peach cobbler!  1 of the most important parts of this cup is the mouthfeel, it's thick and delicious like the caramel of a millionaires' shortbread.

  • Country: El Salvador
  • Region: Santa Ana
  • City: Chalchuapa
  • Farm: Siberia
  • Farmer: Rafael and Carmen Silva Hoff
  • Farm size: 27 hectares
  • Coffee growing area: 27 hectares
  • Annual production: 35,000 KG
  • Workers: 120 during the peak harvest
  • Average temperature: 18 degrees centigrade
  • Average annual rainfall: 2,500mm
  • Altitude: 1,450 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing: Honey
  • Varietal: Bourbon
Episode 383 on Monday the 14th of March, 2016. Colombia Finca Santuario Aquacatillo Washed Red Typica.

Episode 383 on Monday the 14th of March, 2016. Colombia Finca Santuario Aquacatillo Washed Red Typica.

March 13, 2016
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Introducing a coffee we have seen before, in fact twice we have had then lost, let me take you on a journey.

The story starts back in 2009 when it seemed like we had been searching for a great Colombian coffee forever. This had been much harder than it should have been, with Colombian yields massively down and lots of the coffee being hoovered up by people with big pockets who just need to have a Colombian, regardless of the quality. We found this farm on an offer sheet of an importer we don't usually use, but bought it as it was tasting great and had a great back story too.

We stocked the 2009 Typica crop from this farm and it was only a small lot, but it was so popular and so enjoyed that it was gone in two and a half weeks. We had expected it would last until the new crop was due to arrive, many weeks later. So we stocked a good amount of it last year (and it still flew out the door).

The coffee become a favourite farm. But this year we found out from Camilo that the importer would not be bringing in the coffee and all the hard work, searching, and cupping would be wasted. So cue the music and a flight to Colombia (tagged on to the start of my trip to the World Barista Championships); I flew out to see Camilo and to try to fix this.

We bought directly, but some communication issues and shipment problems meant we lost this farm. It was so sad, and I don't think I ever truly forgot this coffee.

Fast forward to Seattle last year at the World Barista Championships (yes another championships) and I bump into Camillo and a long conversation we decided it was for sure worth another try.

Camilo is one of the leading lights and the you could say a template for future of the Colombian coffee industry. I’ll try and quantify that statement; for years Colombia has had a great reputation, and has achieved great prices (even when markets were low the Colombian differential was always high). But changes in climate and issues with plant diseases (leaf rust is a huge problem in Colombia) have put pressure on yields, and so put pressure on farms to change traditional plant stock for that of more disease resistant strains such as Castillo, Catimor, and Colombia. The problem with this is that these varietals don’t take into account what's important to me: how it tastes.

Camilo is working with varietals purely for their intrinsic taste values and to make the best farm; not just in the region or in Colombia, but the world. He is constantly asking questions, working with interesting irrigation ideas to work against the change in climate, even building a giant greenhouse for an experimental lot of growing coffee under cover.

This crazy approach to growing coffee is nothing new to Camilo; he bought land that Santuario now sits on, before it had any coffee on it at all. The land had previously been grazing ground for cattle. It was barren and in a rather bad way, but it seemed there was potential for great Colombian coffee to be grown. With an altitude of 1,800 - 2,100 metres, low temperatures at night (but not too low), and high temperatures during the day (again not too high), the land had possibilities.

With active agronomy, soil management, and careful varietal selection, this farm is now one of the most amazing coffee experiments I have seen. If I were to build a farm (and one day I hope this will happen), this would be the model I would follow. Camilo has selected Typica and Bourbon as the main crop (80%) and experimental lots of Geisha, Maragogype, and Mocha (20%). You can see by the map below that this farm has been meticulously planned and every piece designed to fit in with each other.

Aguacatillo is a tablon on the farm, and the first time I’ve seen this lot, and the good news is it's delicious.

In the cup this starts out as baker’s chocolate with lots of​ ​brown sugar alongside a delicious sweet and juicy lime​ ​acidity. A ​chocolate lime sweet in a cup.

  • Country: Colombia
  • Region: Cauca
  • City: Cali
  • Farm: Finca Santuario
  • Owner: Camilo Merizald
  • Farm Size: 135.4 hectares
  • Coffee growing size: 62.9 Hectares
  • Tablon: Aquacatillo
  • Varietal: Red Typica
  • Processing: Washed
  • Altitude: This lot 2,050 m.a.s.l. rest of farm (1,890 - 2,010 m.a.s.l.)
Episode 382 on Monday the 7th of March 2016 Brazil Fazenda da Grama Pulped Natural Yellow Bourbon

Episode 382 on Monday the 7th of March 2016 Brazil Fazenda da Grama Pulped Natural Yellow Bourbon

March 6, 2016
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This coffee is a staple, a big favourite and a stunning example of what a very fine coffee from Brazil should be. Brazil Fazenda Cachoeira Pulped Natural Yellow Bourbon from the Minas Gerais area is one of my all-time great cups. This coffee has always been fantastic, and it has such amazing memories for me.

This farm and its coffee sparked a massive change in what I thought I knew about coffee. I remember the first time I ever cupped this coffee: time stood still as the cup opened my mind to what great coffee is and can be. Gabriel, the farmer, continues to produce great coffee year on year. We have access to the best of the crop this year – and have had for the last three years – on a European exclusive. This is due to the special relationship we, and our importers, enjoy with Gabriel.

Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama has been in the Carvalho Dias family since 1890 and recently celebrated its 109th crop. It is located in São Paolo state, just three miles from the border with Minas Gerais state. It enjoys the typical characteristics of the mountainous Mogiana and Sul de Minas regions, and it's located at an altitude of 1,100–1,250 metres above sea level.

Gabriel de Carvalho Dias is one of Brazil’s leading agronomists. His family owns several farms, and they border each other in this area. With a total area of 417 hectares, Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama has a coffee plantation area of 165 hectares. Everything is done manually on this farm since its topography does not allow any kind of mechanisation. The mill is located close to the spa town of Poços de Caldas, which is 45 minutes away from the farm.

The Carvalho Dias family consider social and environmental sustainability to be very important. The farm has a programme of planting native species of trees to maintain a better ecological balance. There is also a school, a club and an official-size soccer field for the employees and workers. There are 47 houses, all with modern facilities. The waste water is treated in order to avoid polluting the stream that runs across the farm. The farm has a small hydroelectric plant and only buys energy during the peak harvest. Some of the original Bourbon varietal trees are as much as 108 years old.

The beans are harvested on a sheet and prepared by the ‘pulped natural’ process, which separates the greens. The beans receive the maximum possible attention after harvest so that they don't lose any of the body and cup qualities for which this region is famed.

In the cup what really hits you is the outstanding sweetness. There is chocolatehazelnut and caramel. It's super creamy, with just a little hint of orange on the finish. Is this the perfect espresso? Well, it's an example of how good a single estate coffee can be in the espresso machine. For me, it's close to perfection in a cup.

  • Country: Brazil
  • Region: Mogiana (São Paolo)
  • City: São Sebastião da Grama
  • Farm: Fazenda Cachoeira da Grama
  • Processing: Pulped Natural
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Altitude: 1,100 – 1,250 m.a.s.l.
  • Owner: Lidolpho de Carvalho Dias and family
Episode 381 on Monday the 29th of February, 2016. Guatemala El Limon Black Honey x Natural Caturra.

Episode 381 on Monday the 29th of February, 2016. Guatemala El Limon Black Honey x Natural Caturra.

February 28, 2016
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A few years back, on a visit to Guatemala, my good friend Raul Rodas (a name you may recognise from such World Barista Championships at 2012, when he WON!) was really keen for me to visit a farm that he'd been buying from for a couple of years. In Raul I trust, so of course I said 'yes'.

El Limon is located around an hour's drive to the east of Guatemala city, in the small town of Palencia. This farm sits at an altitude of around 1,600 meters above sea level. It's owned by Guadalupe Alberto Reyes ('Beto'), who used to be the mayor of Palencia and has helped build and develop the town.

Palencia is not part of the eight regions of coffee from Anacafe, but you can see a lot of development in that zone. San Patricio el Limon is a perfect example of that development. I like being in places that are working to be hot and up-and-coming, as well as those places that have established players.

The farm produces mainly Caturra and Bourbon, and does some experimentation with Pacamara, too. Ooooh, we like experimentation, don't we?! 'Yes Steve, we do indeed!'

The experimentation done on El Limon is inspired by Beto's motivation. He has really focused on the farm in the last couple of years. He wanted to take more care in every step that they took in the production chain, from picking to processing to shipping, and also in the agronomy of the farm. This is very much a family affair: Beto's siblings, wife, and son all work on the farm alongside him. In fact, his son is actually studying agronomy at the local college for the benefit of the farm.

The dedication and care in each step is reflected in the fact that they have built a new wet mill, so that they can separate different lots and have control over the quality of all the coffee. Previously the mill could only process one lot; now they are able to process many lots and keep separate day's pickings and varietals in their parcels.

With this wet mill came another opportunity, which was for neighbours and people within the region of Palencia to bring their coffees and process them at the mill. Again, this is another sign that this is a hotspot for Guatemalan coffee.

Beto was the perfect host when I visited the farm. He welcomed me around the farm and into his home, and he prepared the most amazing meal. When you travel as much as I do, mid-trip you find yourself longing for something big, home-cooked, and not from a restaurant or roadside pop-up cafe. This traditional Guatemalan meal was just the ticket and I am sure it saved my life.

Purely as an experiment, Raul and Beto decided they wanted to try doing something different with a coffee. They tinkered with processing methods to see what happened and to see what they could get out of the coffee. When I visited they told me about it, and OF COURSE I tasted the coffee and OF COURSE I bought the coffee!

When farms are processing a coffee, they use a depulping machine that removes the cherry and most of the mucilage. There is a setting on this machine that adjusts how close to the bean it cleans, and therefore how much of the fruit is left behind. The farms Raul works with in Guatemala have, when honey processing, typically used a middle setting (Red Honey). However, Raul wanted to try a Black Honey.

In Costa Rica, where these are most often produced, this would mean leaving all the mucilage and just taking off the fruit skin. However, when they have done Black Honey in Guatemala they have opened the depulper very wide, and some of the cherries have had the skin removed, whilst a few have been left intact. I guess this means it's kind of a hybrid Black Honey x natural process. These were then left on patios for thirteen days, which is about the same time that they use to dry their washed coffees.

You can tell that this is a farm on the up, and a farm on top of their game. When I visited, every question was dispatched with exactly the right answer and every suggestion was listened to and taken on board. In the coming years I think this will be one of the most exciting relationships we have.

In the cup you get the best of both processing worlds colliding. There's Black Forest gateau – made with plenty of cherries – loads of funky fruit, and a little booziness on the finish.

  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: Palencia
  • Farm: San Patricio El Limon
  • Farmer: Guadalupe Alberto Reyes
  • Altitude: 1,600 m.a.s.l.
  • Variety: Caturra
  • Processing System: Black Honey x Natural Hybrid
Episode 380 on Monday the 22nd of February, 2016. Rwanda Migongo Washed Bourbon.

Episode 380 on Monday the 22nd of February, 2016. Rwanda Migongo Washed Bourbon.

February 21, 2016
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This coffee is from the Kirehe district in the eastern province of Rwanda, which is approximately a four hour drive from the capital city Kigali.

Ripe cherries are delivered to mill, where cherries are graded, sorted, de-pulped (using a three disk NAICOFF pulper) and then double-fermented (twelve hours wet fermentation, and then eighteen hours dry.) The parchment is then soaked in clean water for 24 hours.

Next the parchment is rinsed thoroughly and sorted in washing channels, and it's then placed on shaded pre-drying tables. After three days, the parchment is moved onto raised African drying tables.

The drying period averages twenty days. The coffee is turned by hand at 30 minute intervals to homogenize the drying, and the raised beds allow for air circulation around and under the coffee. The coffee is covered during the hottest parts of the day to avoid over-exposure to sunlight and heat.

The coffee is then transported to Kigali for dry milling, and then transported on via road to the port of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, where it is exported.

Rwanda is a country that has a troubled past. In the early 1990s, coffee was Rwanda’s most lucrative export with the country exporting 45,000 tonnes of it in 1990. Events in the 1990s, however, decimated Rwanda’s coffee industry. Most importantly, the 1994 genocide claimed the lives of nearly a million Rwandans, destroying Rwanda’s economy and erasing much of the specialised knowledge needed for the profitable exportation of coffee. Simultaneously, world coffee prices plummeted in the 1990s due to increased worldwide production and consolidation of purchasing by multinational corporations.

The country currently produces less than half the amount of coffee it produced in 1990. However, it makes much higher quality coffee now, and it has been involved in the Cup of Excellence program in recent years, becoming the first African country to do so.

Rwanda’s climate, altitude and high quality Bourbon-variety coffee trees give it the ability to produce high quality coffee for the specialty coffee market. Rwanda's also been helped by foreign aid agencies with how to maximise their efforts in this area.

In the cup expect lots of light! It's a bright cup that made me think of Jif lemon juice – you know the stuff … you squeeze it onto your pancakes alongside a whole load of sugar! There's white grape acidity and a white sugar sweetness too.

  • Country: Rwanda
  • Region: Eastern Province
  • District: Kirehe
  • Mill: Migongo Washing Station
  • Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
  • Producers: 700 farmers on 1 plantation
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Processing Method: Fully Washed
  • Average Temperature: 19.4°C
  • Rainfall: 838mm. a year. Wettest month is April with 151mm.
Episode 379 on Monday the 15th of February, 2016. Bolivia La Linda Washed Red Caturra.

Episode 379 on Monday the 15th of February, 2016. Bolivia La Linda Washed Red Caturra.

February 14, 2016
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In Bolivia, coffee production was traditionally concentrated in the region of Los Yungas where lush subtropical vegetation and environmental conditions helped to produce the amazing quality Bolivian coffee that we all know and love.

Caranavi is located north of the department of La Paz city – 150 kilometers from the capital, is the center of Bolivian coffee production. It's fertile soils and altitude gave Bolivia the potential to produce brilliant and unique coffees.

Due to the many complications and challenges within the Bolivian coffee growing industry many of the smaller farms we have worked with in the past are no longer producing coffee. Whilst this has created some challenges for us it has had a much more significant impact on our exporting partners AgriCafe who have been working with these growers for many years. As a result they have decided to begin farming themselves in an effort to demonstrate what can be achieved with the application of more modern techniques and a scientific farming approach.

Agricafe now manage 7 farms, of which La Linda is the first to bear fruit and is known as The Seed Garden for the other farms in the Buena Vista project.  Alongside this Red Caturra lot the farm is producing Catuai and Typica lots as well as Java, SL28 and Bourbon which are all new plantings in Bolivia. All the coffee has been picked by a group of seven specifically trained female workers.

The newer varieties will only become available next year but we are incredibly proud to support this project and the producers of Caranavi.

In the cup this coffee creates a wonderful new dark chocolate selection box chocolate for me, a dark chocolate raspberry cream! This is a super clean coffee with a velvety texture and creamy aftertaste.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Region: Los Yungas
  • Farm: La Linda
  • Altitude: 1,400 - 1,450 m.a.s.l.
  • Processing Method: Mechanically Washed
  • Varietal: Red Caturra
Episode 378 on Monday the 8th of February, 2016. El Salvador Finca Mi Tierra Washed Bourbon.

Episode 378 on Monday the 8th of February, 2016. El Salvador Finca Mi Tierra Washed Bourbon.

February 7, 2016
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Finca Mi Tierra is located in the canton of La Montañita, Chalchuapa, Department of Santa Ana in the well known Cordillera Apaneca-Ilamatepeque. Owned by the Gamero Interiano family for over three generations, aware of the demand for specialty coffee in El Salvador, they use only the best agricultural practices for the maintenance of the Finca Mi Tierra, during harvest more than 90 highly qualified individuals are responsible for picking the best beans in addition to the 45 permanent employees who work on the farm.

The average age of the plantations is over 35 years, mainly planted of 85% Red Bourbon , 10% a Tipica and 5% Maragogype. The coffee cherries are delivered immediately after picking to Beneficio Tuxpal , which is transformed with the highest quality standards during wet process selecting only the finest ripe cherries 100% after drying in the sun for approximately 12 days. The coffee stays at rest on parchment for the next 45 days before being threshed and selected to ensure the best preparation and cup profiles.

In the cup expect walnut cake, drizzled in walnut oil, it’s a nut fest. The walnut oil alongside melted dark chocolate make this delicious as a cappuccino, and an amazing espresso. Add to this the stunningsilky and creamy aftertaste, it’s a coffee that's all about texture.

  • Country: El Salvador
  • Region: Cordillera Apaneca Ilamatepeque. 
  • Location: Canton La Montañita, Chalchuapa, Santa Ana
  • Farm: Finca Mi Tierra
  • Total Area: 88 Mz (61.53 Ha) 
  • Coffee Area: 85 Mz (59.44 Ha) 
  • Varieties on Farm: 85% Bourbon, 10% Tipica and 5% Maragogype. 
  • Processing Method: Fully Washed
  • Agricultural Practices: Conventional. 
  • Altitude: 1.200 to 1450 meters. 
  • Average rainfall: 2,000 mm 
  • Average temperature: 18 ° C. 
  • Soil: Sandy Loam 
  • Shade trees: Inga, Cypress, Madre Cacao. 
  • Annual production: 600 bags of 69 kg. 
Episode 377 on Monday the 1st of February, 2016. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kebel Aricha Natural.

Episode 377 on Monday the 1st of February, 2016. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Kebel Aricha Natural.

January 31, 2016
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This coffee comes from a mill in the Gedeo zone, which is an area that we've been lucky enough to enjoy coffee from before. It's situated about four kilometres west of the town of Yirgacheffe, in the Guji area of Ethiopia. The mill is called Kerbal Aricha, and it's owned by Surafel Birhanu. It's supplied by around 650–750 smallholder farmers (mainly garden growers), who produce around five containers of specialty coffee and around ten containers of commercial-grade coffee per year. The altitude is varied but goes between 1,950 and 2,100 metres above sea level.

The varietals are anyone's guess, but they seem to be mainly made up from Typica and various other heirloom varietals. This is what you get in Ethiopia: lots of small growers with lots of different mutations and variations of plants, and little interest in separating them and finding out what's what. The term 'heirloom' is a strange one and people are starting to question its use as an accurate descriptor for the amazing coffees we're drinking from Ethiopia. Perhaps we should use the term 'wild' instead? That's certainly what Dale Harris thinks.

For processing, ripe cherries are delivered to the mill where they're graded and then placed onto raised drying beds in thin layers. They're turned every 2–3 hours in the first few days to avoid over-fermentation and mold growth. 4–6 weeks later (depending on weather and temperature) the beans are de-hulled, transported to Addis in parchment, and then milled, prior to shipping.

In the cup this coffee is as funky as funky can be. One ticket for a ride on board the funky bus, please! It's loaded with blueberries and has an amazing sparkling acidity. It's a fantastically exciting and different coffee.

  • Country: Ethiopia
  • District: Yirgacheffe
  • Zone: Gedeo
  • Mill: Kebel Aricha
  • Owner: Surafel Birhanu
  • Processing: Sun Dried natural
  • Producers: Approx. 650 - 700 smallholder farmers, who have on average 150-200 trees each
  • Varietal: Heirloom – Typica and various other indigenous Ethiopian varietals
  • Soil: pH 5.2 – 6.2, red brown, depth of over 1.5m
  • Altitude: 1,950 - 2,100 m.a.s.l.
  • Rainfall: 2,000mm per year (8 months rainy, 3-4 months dry)
  • Temperature: 18ºC - 28ºC
Episode 376 on Monday the 25th of January, 2016. Bolivia Vincent Paye Washed Caturra.

Episode 376 on Monday the 25th of January, 2016. Bolivia Vincent Paye Washed Caturra.

January 24, 2016
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We have had this coffee before. Last time the lot was produced by various smallholder farmers from the small town of Copacabana, which lies about 180 KM from La Paz in the heart of the Caranavi coffee producing region. This time it comes from one individual, called Vincent Paye, who has been working hard to produce great coffee, and who is, in fact, a beacon of hope in this tough growing region.

This is a lush and fertile region. Its steep slopes and valleys provide excellent conditions for growing specialty coffee, as well as supporting a diverse range of native flora and fauna. It has rich volcanic soils and regular rainfall.

The colony of Copacabana has a collection of small farms that are around 5 hectares each (Vincent has 10). The farms range over an altitude of 1,300 to 1,600 metres, and benefit from an average annual temperature of between 15 and 26°C. This lot comes from a farm matching these criteria, and it's at around 1,550 m.a.s.l. These traditional farms use no chemicals or pesticides and are certified organic, although we do not hold an organic certification.

The main harvest runs from May to September, peaking in June and July. The cherries are hand-picked only when fully ripe, and they're then delivered to the central mill, called Buena Vista, where they are fully washed. The cherries are then dried, mechanically this time because of the wet weather, over a 9 day period.

In the cup expect sunshine, yes sunshine yellow, think apricots, think oranges (yes I know oranges are not yellow), think peaches, think yellow. A cinder toffee sweetness that covers the mouth with a huge mouthfeel and delicious and long lasting aftertaste.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Region: Caranavi
  • Town: Copacabana
  • Farm: Vincent Paye
  • Altitude: 1,550 m.a.s.l.
  • Owner: Vincent Paye
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Processing: Full-washed and mechanically dried