2021 Copa Suaceña Winners and Divino Niño Geshas

By Evan Howe

With our latest collection of Reserve Lot additions, we are proud to share eight superb microlots from Suaza, a municipality in southern Huila, Colombia that is the home of a community of coffee farmers (the Divino Niño Producer Group) that Passenger has gradually built a partnership with since 2018. The first step of the project was the addition of a Divino Niño community blend to Passenger’s Foundational Menu, making it feasible for us to commit to purchasing the majority of the 86+ coffee that these 42 small farms produce annually. The second step was the creation of a home for coffees produced by the same farmers, that achieve slightly lower quality scores (in the 84-85 pt. range). With the founding of our sister roasting company, Necessary Coffee, we were able to start buying these coffees from Divino Niño as well. More recently, single producer microlots (such as the present Copa Suaceña offerings) and single variety community blends (such as our Divino Niño Pink Bourbon), that we are proud to feature on Passenger’s Reserve and Education Lot menus, are all the more compelling for us because they are grounded in a broad, growing partnership that we intend to continue building with this remarkable coffee producing community.

Six of our latest Reserve Lots are competition winning coffees from the 2021 Copa Suaceña.

The “Suaza Cup” is a regional cupping competition, organized by our friends and partners at Osito Coffee, that was created to identify and recognize the highest quality coffees produced by Divino Niño member farmers in a given harvest year. Due to COVID-related travel restrictions, it was sadly impossible for us to travel to Colombia for the 2020 and 2021 installments of the Copa Suaceña. While we certainly missed participating in Colombia, and wished we could celebrate in-person with the producers as we did the first year, Passenger has proudly served as one of the cupping locations for decentralized editions of the competition for the past two years.

The most recent competition took place during the last week of January 2022. A panel of six judges, located in Colombia, Quebec, and Pennsylvania completed a meticulous sensory evaluation of the 39 competition lots, using video conferencing and shared spreadsheets to debrief scores and notes over three consecutive days of tasting. On the final day, the top 10 lots were re-cupped and overall scores were tabulated to establish the final ranking for the 2021 Copa Suaceña. When the names of the producers responsible for the winning lots were revealed, we were incredibly pleased to see many new names on the leaderboard, as well as a few well-known names from the previous year.

Sharing our annual selections from the Copa Suaceña competition has become one of the highlights of each year for us at Passenger. At the end of the 2021 competition, our green buying team purchased portions of six of the top 10 lots and we are truly pleased to share them with you now. As with many of our favorite Copa Suaceña coffees from years past, these latest selections are deeply sweet, elegantly structured, and bursting with bright, juicy flavors.

Gesha Selections from Edgar García Ossa and Eugenio Cantillo

The arabica variety known as gesha came to the attention of the international specialty coffee industry when a delicate and intensely floral coffee from a now-famous estate, Hacienda la Esmeralda, bewitched a panel of international judges at the 2004 Best of Panama coffee competition and ultimately shattered previous records for the highest price ever paid for a coffee at auction. While Boquete, Panama was the place that put the gesha variety on the map, coffee producers throughout Central and South America took note of the historic prices being paid for the new variety, and many of them decided to plant gesha trees of their own.

The final coffees making up this latest Reserve Lot collection are single-variety gesha separations from two notable Divino Niño coffee producers: Edgar García Ossa and Eugenio Cantillo. Edgar García Ossa is a longtime member of the Divino Niño producer group and has placed in the top 10 of the Copa Suaceña for the last two years. This is the second time that Passenger has purchased a gesha separation from his farm, El Mirador, and we are proud to add it to the menu at the same time that we are sharing his 2021 Copa Suaceña submission , that was ultimately awarded 2nd place in the competition.

While Passenger’s green buying team enjoyed a friendly visit with Eugenio Cantillo and his family on one of our first sourcing trips to Divino Niño, it has only recently become possible for us to purchase coffee from his farm. In 2007, Eugenio’s brother Isaías won the Colombia Cup of Excellence competition, drawing international buyers to their small town and stoking demand for coffees produced by the Cantillo brothers and their three sons, who are also coffee farmers. The present Eugenio Cantillo Gesha release, representing the 2021 harvest at Eugenio’s farm, Finca Aranzazu, is one of the finest examples of the gesha variety that we have tasted from the Suaza region to date.

2021 Copa Suaceña Winners and Divino Niño Geshas