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Strawberry, Apple and Molasses
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.
This is the third year we have purchased this particular lot of a more ordinary varietal, a coffee that illustrates Granja’s continuing commitment to set a new standard for post-harvest processing and flavour enhancement. This lot of the San Juan varietal is grown on the original Granja farm, Finca Potosí. The team at Fincas Potosí and Las Margaritas, both of which lie just outside the town of Caicedonia in northern Valle, are constant innovators, even creating their own hybrid varietals through manual cross pollination of trees. San Juan is an example of this, a cross between Granja’s Bourbon and Pacamara plant stock. In the mountains above Caicedonia, traditional natural processing is very difficult to control due to high average humidity of over 70%, and frequent rains during harvest. For this process, dubbed XO due to its aim to create a coffee that matches the complexity of a barrel-aged cognac, CGLE have used a very long in-cherry fermentation of around 40 hours in temperature-controlled tanks. After the fermentation, the cherries are transferred to drying silos for a slow and controlled mechanical drying, making a full natural process possible in this humid and damp climate. Their meticulous production process has resulted in a coffee that creates a balance between primary terroir flavours, and secondary process-driven flavours, opening new flavour dimensions for coffee aficionados. In this cup, this means fresh and bright apple notes from the high altitude Cauca Valley terroir, combined with soft strawberry notes and a heavy molasses sweetness, like we’d expect from a great natural.
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
|Producer||Cafe Granja La Esperanza|
|Region||Valle de Cauca|
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.