About the coffee
This lot, 575-05, is part of a slow moving project, regenerating the ecosystem and cultivars planted on the farm. This is one of the first lots of 575's Typica, put together from seeds collected from Colombia, Ecuador and further afield. It takes a coffee plant several years to reach a full harvest, so the lots are rather small for now, but have been showcasing a great deal of potential. The floral character of Typica is not quite as strong here as it would be in higher altitude coffees, but is very well complemented by careful processing, again using an in-cherry fermentation before drying, leading to a rich and round base for the florals. We feel that tasting the 575 lots together can provide an insight into modern coffee production, and the methods that can be used to bring more producers into the specialty coffee market. Many will not have the same learning and travel opportunities that Herbert has had, but the lessons are still relevant. The advantages of careful fermentation and cultivar separation in order to create differentiated microlots are illustrated here; prospering in unfavourable terroir.
Lemon Verbena, Dark Chocolate and Molasses
575 and LaREB
Though we have worked with the LaREB collective for a number of years now, and visited Herbert Peñaloza’s farm several times over our visits to Colombia, we have only once previously purchased coffee from El Edén, located just outside the town of Palocabildo in Northern Tolima. There are several reasons for this; Herbert admits freely that the terroir here isn’t particularly suited to producing high quality coffee. The farm was initially conceived as a commodity coffee project. They planted very densely with high yielding hybrid cultivars, that produce well at the low altitude of only 1350 masl, and are resistant to some of the flooding that happens near the bottom of the farm. In 2015, the team at 575 decided to cut down all the trees and have been since regenerating the farm, learning and iterating. At the same time, they started planting a new project, El Bocadillo, at a higher altitude about a 30 minute drive away. The coffees we are releasing this month showcase 575’s learning over the past few years. As first generation producers, Herbert and his team have had to seek out knowledge themselves, working harvests in East Timor, hosting fellow coffee professionals from other countries at El Edén, and distilling the experience of working with producers across Colombia into their own coffees.
The natural, or dry process, is the traditional process, going back generations. When accomplished in a controlled and careful manner, dry processed coffees can produce flavour experiences not found in wet processed coffees, deep fruits and florals, normally with heavier mouthfeel and lower acidity. The cherries are first sorted, and then laid out on in thin layers (2-6 cm) on raised drying beds. These are almost always used for high quality naturals, as they aid airflow around the coffee as it dries, enabling more even drying. It is very important that coffees are sorted very carefully early on in the drying process, as all of the cherries quickly turn dark brown, making it impossible to separate under and overripe cherries. The cherries are turned frequently to avoid mold formation or over-fermentation, until they reach a moisture content of below 20%, and the outer cherry layer shrinks and blackens. This process takes between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on weather conditions.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more