Cesar Gómez Saby - 2020 - Copa Suaceña 6th Place

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    Sweet tropical fruits, panela, and florals on the nose introduce a complex and deeply pleasing cup with flavors of citrus, cooked berries, and a refreshing black tea note on the finish.

    Cesar Gómez Saby’s farm, La Lagunita, is located in Bajo Horizonte, a tiny hamlet in the Suaza region of southern Huila, Colombia. This is the first year that a coffee from Cesar’s farm placed in the top 10 of the Copa Suaceña: a regional cupping competition organized to highlight the finest coffees produced by individual members of two producer groups that Passenger has been buying from for the past three years.

    2020 Copa Suaceña

    In December 2019 two members of Passenger’s green buying team travelled to southern Huila, Colombia to participate as judges in the inaugural 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 a community of farmers that Passenger has been buying from for the past three years.

    To qualify for inclusion, coffees submitted to the competition had to meet strict physical analysis criteria (between 10-10.8% moisture content; between .48-.58 water activity; yield factor of 90 or less), and had to be produced by members of one of two producer groups: La Cooperativa Divino Niño del Horizonte and ASOCAFOR. Since 2018, this community of coffee producers has been one of Passenger’s foundational partners and their coffees are featured year round on our menu under the name Divino Niño.

    2020 Copa Suaceña winner, Adriana Gonzalez

    Passenger Team judging 2020 Copa Suaceña Lots in Lancaster

    While it was sadly impossible to make our annual sourcing trip to Colombia in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Passenger was honored to be invited to serve as one of the cupping locations for the second Copa Suaceña competition which adopted a decentralized format this year. In January 2021, a panel of five judges located in Colombia, Connecticut, and Lancaster completed a meticulous sensory evaluation of the 29 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 2020 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.

    Group Shot of 2020 Copa Suaceña Winning Producers

    All producers whose coffee was accepted into the 2020 Copa Suaceña received a premium in addition to Osito’s base price (for all 86+ lots at the time of the competition) of 1,450,000 Colombian pesos per carga (125kg) of coffee in parchment (parchment is a protective husk surrounding the coffee seeds that is removed just before shipping). For her 1st place entry, Adriana Gonzalez received $4,762,935 pesos per carga.

    Street scene in Divino Niño

    The purchase of a portion of all of the top 10 competition lots from the 2020 Copa Suaceña is an exciting chapter in the partnership that Passenger has been gradually building over time with the producers of Divino Niño and ASOCAFOR. The first step of the project was the addition of the Divino Niño community blend to Passenger’s Foundational Menu, making it feasible for us to pay fixed prices on an ongoing basis for 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 and ASOCAFOR as well. More recently, single producer microlots (such as the present offering from Adriana Gonzalez) 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.

    At Passenger we are committed to the idea that the pursuit of a truly viable specialty coffee supply chain requires that coffees of all quality grades - not merely the highest scoring microlots - be bought at a fair price. While still at an early stage of development, our evolving partnership with the producers of Divino Niño is a project that fills us with pride and optimism for the future.