Diverse Colombia - Five New Coffees

By David Shaub Stallings

Colombia may be the most diverse of all coffee producing countries. There are 32 departments in the South American country (departments being similar to our states). Of those 32 departments 19 produce coffee. Of those 19 Huila, Tolima, Nariño and Cauca are arguably the most famous for their specialty coffee production. Early on in our existence we were focusing our sourcing in Tolima. But, after some stalled relationships (an unfortunate, but very real part of coffee buying), we have spent the past three years focusing the majority of our time in Southern Huila, making 3-4 trips there a year. This has been time well spent and has resulted in wonderful relationships and wonderful coffees. Most notable for us are the relationships in the frontier town Acevedo.

Of the five Colombian coffees we released last week, two of them - Jhon Wilson Poveda and Guillermo Rojas - are from Acevedo. We have been impressed by Jhon Wilson Poveda's coffee for three years now and we are thrilled to finally offer it on our menu. Guillermo Rojas is a new name to us. This coffee emerged during the 2nd annual Acevedo Cup, a competition that our Green Buying team helped initiate back in 2016. Both of these coffees placed in this year's Acevedo Cup competition.

Also from Southern Huila is producer Marlenis Imbachi's coffee. This incredibly small lot (only 50 pounds!) was simply too enjoyable to turn down. It is comprised of 100% Pink Bourbon, a relatively rare variety. This coffee was produced in San Agustín, which is roughly 40 miles west of Acevedo. Every time we visit Acevedo we plan for a night in San Agustín, which is a charming town. Equally charming are the coffees, which we have always had an interest in, but never purchased. We are happy to present this, our first lot from San Agustín.

In addition to being incredibly diverse, Colombian coffees can be incredibly unique. Around the cupping table I will somewhat jokingly refer to it as the Africa of South America. The acidity of these coffees can be so much more impactful and profound than anywhere else in Latin America. We have stuck primarily to Southern Huila not because we don't enjoy other producing regions in Colombia, but because we want to dig as deep as we can with the relationships that we have. That said, we are also using this five coffee release as a time to showcase other departments in Colombia.

One of the lots is a coffee from Tolima that we have been tasting for years when in Colombia and have almost always been impressed by. Jesus Antonio Saavedra's coffee has an acidity that is utterly astounding. Complex, piquant, prismatic. This is a truly unique coffee.

And finally there is San Miguel. This two producer blend from the San Miguel hamlet of Nariño was sourced by a friend of Passenger's. When we received the sample we were in love and thought it a perfect opportunity to present a coffee from Nariño. Arguably the brightest of the five Colombian coffees, this is an excellent small lot.

Colombia is a magical country with magical coffees. Our green buying team will be heading to Southern Huila next week with the mission of selecting 50% of our Keystone blend for next year and also our fourth of what will eventually be five Foundational Lots. Until those coffees make their way to the States in late 2018-early 2019, we entreat you taste these five coffees and experience the multifarious flavor profiles that can be found in Colombia.