DISCOVERY

Huila

This month we are sharing two examples of the fast moving coffee growing community of Huila. Many of the new developments we see in Colombian coffee have their roots in Huila, and this month, we’re focussing on two of them. Alto Cielo with it's wild expression of the Huila terroir and Miraflores, the Pink Bourbon that examplifies the willingness of Colombian coffeeproducers to experiment with new varietals.

Huila

Coffees grown in Huila are highly prized in our industry for several reasons. The mountainous terrain provides high altitudes and varying microclimates, leading to a diverse flavour spectrum throughout the area. Diversity is also encouraged by the large number of small farms, with those averaging between 1 and 3 hectares producing much of the coffee in the region. The small farms here mainly have their own processing facilities, both wet mills, where the coffee is pulped, fermented and washed, and space for drying the coffees.

The structures put in place by the National Federation of Coffee Growers (FNC) starting as far back as the 1930’s mean that individual farmers here have an access to the market not seen in many other countries in the coffee belt. Information on farming techniques is readily available, and the dry-milling and export system in Colombia has been built from the ground up to deal with micro-lots, down to the work of one single farmer.

Although Huila is well known in speciality circles, coffee arrived here much later, leading to soils which haven’t been exhausted by years of conventional agriculture, and its chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The soil here also has a volcanic element; Colombia’s highest volcano, Nevado del Huila, lies in the north of the region. There is also plentiful high altitude in Huila. The Colombian Andes split into 3 distinct ranges here, the eastern, western and central ‘cordilleras’.

This high altitude leads to large day-night swings in temperature, which slows cherry maturation. Further down into the valley between the cordilleras, lies a large area of jungle. Weather systems carry cool, moist air from the jungle up into the coffee growing lands, further lengthening the cherry maturation. This leads to very intense, sweet and complex cups, but also to the main challenges of producing coffee here. The cool temperatures and high level of humidity mean that drying coffee can be a very difficult prospect here, and harvest schedules are long and unpredictable, leading to high labour costs for several rounds of picking.

Coffees this month: 

Alto Cielo

Miraflores

This month's coffees

The many small farms, and relative youth of the coffee industry here, has also led to the main advantage of Huila when compared to other regions in Colombia; it’s agility. Huila’s coffee production has been shaped by the speciality coffee movement; empowered producers with easy access to market, many growing coffee on newly planted small farms with fertile soils. Many coffee buyers work here, often bidding against each other for the top lots each harvest. Many of the new developments we see in Colombian coffee have their roots in Huila, and this month, we’re focussing on two of them.

Fruity & wild

Alto Cielo

Processing natural coffees in Colombia has never been easy. The difficult climatic conditions and lack of interest from traditional buyers meant that it was almost impossible to find natural Colombian coffee until very recently. Using mechanical driers heated by burning waste material from farms, or skilfully applying well-ventilated plastic parabolic driers means that natural coffees are now seen more frequently, especially in Huila. Extended pre-fermentation routines have also led to greater control of the cup profile, minimising fermentation during drying and maintaining a fresh and juicy feel.

Angelo Sosa grows coffee on a 10 hectare plot outside the city of Gigante in central Huila, Colombia. A rather large farm compared to many in Huila, Angelo picked this spot due to its natural beauty, due to the placement high above Gigante, on the slopes of the Eastern Andean Cordillera. The micro-climate here is also very suitable for the production of high-quality coffee, with cool humid evenings followed by days filled with plentiful and powerful sun, here only 250 km north of the equator.

Angelo is a great fan of the Tabi varietal, both due to its disease resistance and high yield, but also due to the fact that it creates a much higher quality cup than more traditional Colombian hybrids. For these reasons he grows almost exclusively Tabi on Alto Cielo, which he has nicknamed ‘Tabiland’. Unusually for Huila, Angelo uses a natural process for this particular lot of Tabi. The cherries were pre-fermented in tanks for 24 hours, before being dried carefully under plastic canopies for around 16 days. These canopies provide protection from rains during harvest, but also raise the temperature inside and aid airflow to achieve even and controlled drying of naturals, even in this rather humid climate.

This process has unveiled a soft and elegant profile, with a creamy character and plentiful ripe fruit notes.

Floral & balanced

Miraflores

Edwin Mazorra owns Miraflores together with his father. They purchased the land together, taking ownership of a rather poorly managed commodity coffee farm. Here in Huila, the soils are full of nutrition, and haven’t been exhausted by generations of conventional agriculture, with its chemical pesticides and fertilisers, which made converting the farm to a high end speciality operation possible, although with a great deal of hard work required. They planted several new varietals, with a focus on Pink Bourbon, inspired by many stories of excellent experiences from friends. One disadvantage of Pink Bourbon is its very long branches, meaning it has to be planted with greater spacing than most Colombian varietals. This meant yields on the farm dropped, leading Edwin to look for other ways to add value to his coffee, participating in trainings on processing techniques, soil health, and wider sustainability on his farm, all in an attempt to chase the high quality and high prices of the speciality market.

This lot was picked in November 2021. Edwin and his team of pickers need to make several passes over the farm to ensure only the ripest cherries are removed from the tree; the wet conditions in Colombia this harvest season meant that cherry maturation was slow and rather uneven. The cherries are first floated in clean water, enabling low density ‘floaters’ to be removed. The outer cherries are removed by a de-pulper, before the coffee is fermented for 36 hours, washed 3-4 times, and dried in well-ventilated parabolic driers.

This exacting process leads to a clean expression of the Pink Bourbon varietal, showcasing its crisp tropical fruit notes and floral aromas, alongside intense and fresh red berries in the cup.

DISCOVERY

Changes in Huila

Huila is and will continue to be one of the world’s most exciting regions for speciality coffee. The willingness to embrace change, the sheer number of speciality buyers working there, and the wealth of knowledge and talent in the producing community has led to excellent coffees. Huila has seen some of the fastest development of any region we work in. The advent of new varietals, processes, and producers has been key to Huila’s success, now producing a wider palette of flavour expressions than we thought possible even 4 years ago. This month’s coffees are excellent examples of these developments, and of their utilisation by talented and motivated individuals. We hope you enjoy both this month.

Opening Hours

La Cabra - Graven

Graven 20

8000 Aarhus C

Denmark

Opening Hours:

Mon - Sat: 08:00 - 18:00

Sun: 09:00 - 17:00

La Cabra - Bakery

Borggade 4F

8000 Aarhus C

Denmark

Opening Hours:

Mon - Sat: 07:00 - 18:00

Sun: 07:00 - 17:00

La Cabra - New York

152 2nd Ave

New York

United States

Opening Hours:

Mon - Fri: 08:00 - 18:00

Sat - Sun: 09:00 - 18:00

La Cabra - Bangkok

813 Charoen Krung Rd, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong

Bangkok 10100

Thailand

Opening Hours:

Mon: Closed

Tue - Fri: 08:00 - 17:00

Sat - Sun: 09:00 - 18:00

La Cabra - Sharjah

1F, House of Wisdom, Al Juraina 1

Sharjah

United Arab Emirates

Opening Hours:

Sun - Thu: 09:00 - 23:00

Fri - Sat: 09:00 - 24:00

Graven 20

8000 Aarhus C

Denmark

Opening Hours:

Mon - Sat: 08:00 - 18:00

Sun: 09:00 - 17:00

Borggade 4F

8000 Aarhus C

Denmark

Opening Hours:

Mon - Sat: 07:00 - 18:00

Sun: 07:00 - 17:00

152 2nd Ave

New York

United States

Opening Hours:

Mon - Fri: 08:00 - 18:00

Sat - Sun: 09:00 - 18:00

813 Charoen Krung Rd, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong

Bangkok 10100

Thailand

Opening Hours:

Mon: Closed

Tue - Fri: 08:00 - 17:00

Sat - Sun: 09:00 - 18:00

1F, House of Wisdom, Al Juraina 1

Sharjah

United Arab Emirates

Opening Hours:

Sun - Thu: 09:00 - 23:00

Fri - Sat: 09:00 - 24:00

Contact

Webshop

Marguerite Vibys Pl. 1

2000 Frederiksberg

Denmark

Have a question?

Please write us in the chat.

Roastery

Marguerite Vibys Pl. 1

2000 Frederiksberg

Denmark

Marguerite Vibys Pl. 1

2000 Frederiksberg

Denmark

Have a question?

Please write us in the chat.

Marguerite Vibys Pl. 1

2000 Frederiksberg

Denmark

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