Colombia Villamaría Natural

£10

Region: Caldas
Altitude: 1,800 m.a.s.l. 
Variety: colombia, castillo naranjal
Process: natural 

Tasting notes: strawberry, dried mango, bold

This is the first naturally processed Colombian we’ve offered and it’s an excellent example of what’s possible with innovation and investment in quality. In the cup this coffee has all the bold Colombian mouthfeel and structure we love, but with more juicy red fruit and tropical fruit notes. We taste lush strawberry, tangerine, kiwi, and even dried mango.

Traditionally Colombian coffee has always been processed using the washed method, which means the cherries are de-pulped before being dried. In fact, prior to 2015 the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation (FNC) required that all coffee exported be washed because they wanted to maintain the distinctive profile of Colombian coffee: clean and balanced with a full mouthfeel and often bright citric acidity. However in recent years Colombian producers have been jumping on the natural processing bandwagon in order to access more of the specialty market. The result is coffees like this, Colombian as we know and love it, but more intensely fruity.

This particular coffee was a result of a unique set-up between the farmers and the importer. This is a regional lot produced by about 50 smallholder farmers in the mountainous region northwest of Bogoá. In Colombia, most coffee farmers process their coffees at their own facilities. But in this case the processing station is operated by the importer, Raw Materials, who buys whole cherries from local farmers and takes over processing from there. Raw Materials has been experimenting with alternative processing methods with great success at their processing stations in Colombia and Rwanda. 

This relationship between the farmers and the importer is mutually beneficial. The farmers get paid immediately for their cherry, and then they receive a second payment if the coffee is of a high enough quality. Normally in Colombia the producer is responsible for cultivation, harvest, processing, drying and sale. But the farmers that work with Raw Materials can earn the same amount of money for just the cultivation and harvesting. According to Jessie May Peters of Raw Materials, “We buy cherry from the farmers because it takes a monumental amount of effort and work out of the hands of the producers and their families.” In addition, being in control of the processing of the coffee means that Raw Materials can be stringent in their quality control and also manage lot selection to meet market demands. 

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