This is the One, folks. Every year we get in a super dope natural Colombian that doesn't just bring the fruit and the booze, but also the sugar. Typically we mark this coffee as perhaps the best of the year, and sometimes we use it for competitions. Stay tuned for some news about this coffee in the UK Barista Championship. We think it tastes like Lime, Cherry, Mango, and just good old white sugar. Sweetness for days.
We sourced this coffee with our friends at Falcon Coffee who are increasingly our go-to for high-end and ethical coffee sourcing. They've been knocking it out of the park with their work in Colombia recently, and it really shows.
This coffee is a humble Castillo varietal grown at 1800 meters above sea level by the Anserma cooperative. Thousands of small-holding farmers contributed to this lot, but the distinctive flavours come from the careful anaerobic natural drying process employed. This is a test run of natural for the cooperative (and therefore extremely limited in quantity), so it's amazing to get ahold of some of it for Skylark!
Anserma cooperative is located in the western area of the department of Caldas, and started operating in 1967. It has extensive knowledge and experience in coffee, and the support of the national Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia and the Departmental Committee of Coffee Growers of Caldas. It operates in the municipalities of Anserma, Risaralda, San José, Belalcázar and Viterbo. Its main purpose is the commercialisation of coffee and other agricultural products seeking to promote and improve the economic, social, technical, and cultural conditions of the associates. The cooperative has 2,083 associated coffee growers who cultivate excellent quality coffee with dedication and passion. In and amongst coffee, they also grow crops like sugarcane and bananas to sell for income (and also contribute to biodiversity). The cooperative with the new General Manager Luis Miguel have looked to embrace technology and the shift towards specialty coffee production. They have been building temperature-controlled areas in the warehouse for looking after the micro-lots that the producers deliver.
The cooperative has also started to experiment with producing naturals for the first time without putting the risk on the producer. Luis Miguel invested in a Nuna Coffee drying box that can regulate the temperature and the humidity to dry the coffee. These boxes were pioneered in Colombia to try and combat the extremely challenging and ever-changing daily climates in the Colombian Andes. To start this project they selected a few local producers who are known for quality to buy cherry from over the regular market price. From here the cooperative then set up a sorting station to pick the ripest cherry and create uniformity. The varietal used in this lot is Castillo. After picking and separation, the coffee is then washed and fermented in sealed barrels for 96 hours. After this it is then put in the drying box where it is dried at 35 - 40 centigrade for 100-120 hours. This is the first step and initial trial after which they hope to expand and improve the capacity at the cooperative and involve more producers in this program.