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The raw material for this lot is very familiar to us, Cafe Granja’s revered Cerro Azul Geisha. This is now the sixth year we have purchased this coffee, the coffee that our baristas Sonja Zweidick, Dane Oliver and most recently Victor Kristensen have taken to the world stage, in both Barista and Brewer’s competitions. Victor has in fact won the Danish Brewer’s Cup title two years running with the Cerro Azul Geisha, in both 2019 and 2020. Cafe Granja are intimately familiar with the care and attention the Geisha plant needs, they were one of the first to bring this varietal to Colombia, having previously owned a farm in Panama, the adopted home of this lauded varietal. This translates into their excellent work at the farm level, this coffee is a true representation of the potential of the Geisha varietal in Colombia. Clean acidity, intense and distinct flavours, and some of the most incredible aromatics we have come across in coffee. Cerro Azul was chosen by the experts at Granja as a perfect location for the development of ultra high quality Geisha cherries. The location of the farm is further southwest in the Cauca Valley than Potosí and Las Margaritas, closer to the state capital of Cali, and to Colombia’s Pacific coast. The cool breeze from the Pacific combined with the very high altitude mean that the trees have to fight low average temperatures and large day-night swings in temperatures to survive, concentrating energy into their cherries as sugar. This leads to a high level of both sweetness and intensity of flavour in the final cup. This incredible quality of raw material has to be treated with great care at each further stage, in order to preserve the potential created in the field. Luckily the team at Cafe Granja La Esperanza consistently take care of their stages of the process with aplomb.
This washed lot was fermented and dried using Granja’s trademark level of attention to detail. Carefully hand-picked Geisha cherries arrive at the Cerro Azul wet mill, are depulped without water, and fermented in mucilage for between 19 and 22 hours, depending on conditions. After fermentation, the remaining mucilage is removed using mechanical scrubbers and minimal water, and the cherries dried gently in mechanical driers between 35 and 45 degrees, to a moisture content of 11%. This is followed by a resting of at least one month in parchment in climate controlled warehouses, allowing moisture content to stabilise and flavours to increase in intensity. During our visit in November 2019 we witnessed another of Granja’s wet mills in action further north at Las Margaritas, and were very impressed by the systems, control and cleanliness we saw. The lots of Cerro Azul Geisha resting in parchment smelled incredible, with their trademark clear floral aromatics already starting to develop, even before dry-milling. Here, the Cerro Azul Geisha is characteristically delicate and aromatic, with incredible clarity of flavour; showcasing crisp and clear jasmine aromas followed by fresh and sweet apricot and a round white tea finish.
Cafe Granja La Esperanza
Some of our most memorable coffee experiences
The Herrera family purchased Finca Potosí in 1945 and planted several varieties that were unusual for Colombia at the time, including yellow and red Bourbon. This started the Granja tradition of experimentation, leading to recognition from other farmers in the Cauca Valley. The years that followed were very productive, and though each of the 14 children took their share of the farm work, two brothers took particular interest in coffee production, and in the late 1990’s, Rigoberto and Luis took over the family business. They purchased more small farms to add to their portfolio, and began the process of converting all of their coffee growing to use organic practices. They also looked outside Colombia for further insight, and jumped at the opportunity to lease a small farm in Panama. Rigoberto moved, and his years of producing experience were all too obvious, their lot of Geisha won the Best of Panama within 2 years. When Rigoberto returned to Granja, he brought back not only experience, but Panamanian Geisha seeds. These seeds were the foundation for the next stage of growth, beginning to chase extraordinary flavour profiles and the super high end specialty market. The experience of bringing a Panamanian varietal to Colombia was pivotal to Granja in their endeavour to adapt more exotic varietals to the Colombian soil, showcasing a wide view of the Cauca Valley terroir. They have also begun to experiment with unique processing, using tank fermentation to create incredible control over initial in-cherry fermentations, for both their washed and natural coffees. They also use mechanical drying extensively, allowing very tight control over length and degree of drying. This type of fermentation results in very low water usage, compared especially to traditional washed processing. This is another of Granja’s core values, focussing on sustainability. They have also worked very hard on maintaining local floral and fauna, using waste products from the farm to fire their mechanical driers, and switching to organic farming methods.
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.
The washed process involves completely removing both the cherry and the mucilage from the outside of the parchment with the use of friction, fermentation and water. After being harvested, the coffee cherry is then sliced open by either a metal or a sharp plastic blade. The two seeds (also known as beans) are pushed out of the cherry, which leaves the seed with mucilage as their outermost layer. It is essential in the washed process that all mucilage is removed from the seed which leaves only the flavor that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.
You can brew our coffees any way you want it is just a matter of the right ratios.