COLOMBIA, NARIÑO | 1950 MASL | COLOMBIA F4, CATURRA
A proud partnership between Árlex Muñoz, Coomerciacafe, La Real Expedición Botánica, and Coffeebar.
This coffee is the first of our relationship with the importer LaREB (La Real Expedicion Botanica). David, our director of coffee, had the opportunity to travel around Colombia with Herbert, the head of LaREB, in September and visit the cooperative where Arlex Munoz is a member. This cooperative, located in the small town of La Union in the Narino region, works with local farmers and has an in-house quality control lab, which allows them to practice a high level of lot separation and promote micro lots, as well as cooperative blends. Alongside Arlex Munoz’s lot, we’ll be using the ‘Ventenos’ cooperative blend in our Zephyr espresso come March.
The Arlex Munoz lot that we’ll be highlighting as a single origin is a washed process coffee, but has an interesting quirk to that. Whereas most producers bring their fresh-picked coffee cherries down the mountain every day, and then de-pulp the cherries and begin the processing in their homes or at the mills, Arlex instead leaves his harvest in his plantation. The reason for this is the accessibility, or lack thereof, of Arlex’s lot. Located on land from 1900-2100 meters above sea level, the labor required to carry hundreds of pounds of coffee cherry down the mountain would be huge. Instead, the cherries, left in the sacks into which they were harvested, will begin a natural fermentation in the cooler air of his farm. Then every 3 or 4 days, Arlex will take a de-pulper up the mountain to his lot and de-pulp the coffee cherries there. What this means is that some of the coffee being de-pulped will be fresh-picked that day, some will have been fermenting in bags for 24 hours, some 48, and some possibly even 72 hours. These coffees are all de-pulped together, and then placed in fermentation tanks to continue as a standard washed process.
Herbert confessed that upon first hearing of this method he was shocked, as were we, as conventional wisdom demands de-pulping coffee cherries the day of harvest in order to control the fermentation stage. The truth though is that this coffee displays a high level of complexity, without any of the astringency or out of balance acidity one might worry about with excessive fermentation.