Mario Salazar - 2022

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    Brown sugar, pineapple, and poached pear aromatics open up this jammy sweet profile with expressive flavors of raspberry, vanilla, and warming spice in the cup. As it cools, cooked berries, tart lime peel, and cranberry are integrated into a rich base of sweet vanilla and cocoa in the finish.

    This pink bourbon separation from producer Mario Salazar took 2nd place in the central region of the Copa de Oro competition. As a member of the Divino Niño group, and past winner of multiple Copa Suaceña competitions, we’re delighted to be able to feature yet another exceptional coffee from this legendary producer.

    Since 2019, Passenger's green buying team has had the privilege of joining the judging panel at a series of Copa Suaceña competitions in southern Huila, Colombia, organized by our sourcing and import partners at Osito Coffee. Each annual edition of the "Suaza Cup" has pursued the goal of identifying and recognizing the highest quality coffees produced by the Divino Niño producer group: a community of farmers that has been one of Passenger's Foundational Partners since 2018. As a result of COVID-related restrictions, it was sadly impossible for us to travel to Colombia in 2020 and 2021, and we continued to support the Copa Suaceña as best we could as remote participants in two decentralized editions of the competition. Given that two-year hiatus, we were especially excited to return to Colombia in December, 2022 to serve as judges at the most ambitious regional cupping event organized by our hosts to date: an expanded competition dubbed the "Copa de Oro”.

    In addition to remaining open to submissions from all the familiar names we've come to know and love in Divino Niño, this larger competition expanded its regional scope to welcome entrants from other sub-regions of western, southern, and central Huila that are areas of particular focus for our partners at Osito. Twenty lots from each of these broad geographical regions were screened and pre-selected by Osito's Colombia-based cupping team. The 60 lots that were entered into the competition were rigorously evaluated by an international team of judges (from Colombia, Brazil, Japan, Canada, the Netherlands, England, and the U.S.) across three days of blind cupping. At the end of competition week, the top 20 lots were cupped one final time to determine the ranking for the top 5 coffees from each of the three regions. And when all was said and done, the highest scoring coffee among these regional champions was ultimately recognized as the overall winner of the inaugural Copa de Oro.

    After our green buying team had made initial blind selections from the pool of competition lots, we were delighted to learn that a number of these coffees were submitted by legendary producers from Divino Niño that we have been featuring on Passenger's menu for a number of years. Mario Salazar is certainly one of those legendary producers and this spectacular pink bourbon from his farm was awarded second place overall in the competition's Central region. Mario Salazar Cabrera is the current treasurer of the Divino Niño producer group and is a colorful and charismatic leader within his community. We first got to meet Mario in 2019 when a coffee from his farm won second place in the inaugural Copa Suaceña. Given the incredible quality of that lot, and yet another winning entry in the 2022 Copa Suaceña, we were not surprised in the least to see his name on the list of Copa de Oro finalists. Mario’s farm, El Sinai, has been in his family for at least 30 years and he currently cultivates a wide range of arabica varieties including caturra, castillo, colombia, pink bourbon, and typica. While many of the outstanding coffees that we have purchased from Mario in years past have been "field blends" of these varieties, this latest competition lot showcases the outstanding complexity and sweetness that single variety separations of his pink bourbon can offer

    We’re honored to be able to share all of the coffees we selected from this year’s Copa de Oro as beautiful and varied representations of what the Huila region can offer. We’re especially excited, however, to again be featuring producers from the Divino Niño group of producers in Suaza. Divino Niño is the oldest of Passenger’s six Foundational Partnerships, and is in many ways the most fully realized example of the type of partnership our sourcing model strives to build. As with each of the Foundational Partnerships that together make up the core of Passenger's menu, our ongoing goal in Divino Niño remains the same: to try to add value for these producers as reliable, ongoing buyers - intentionally prioritizing the purchase of a broad representation of the coffees and quality grades that they produce each year (i.e. not just the 'cream of the crop'). To that end, we are delighted to share this beautiful lot, one of the finest coffees produced in Divino Niño last year, alongside other fine coffees purchased from Mario and his neighbors that shine year round in Passenger's Divino Niño Foundational Lot and on the menu of our sister brand Necessary Coffee.

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