Mario Salazar Cabrera - 2019 - Copa Suaceña 2nd Place


Sweet, fruited aromas and a fresh floral quality reminiscent of tulip introduce a dynamic cup offering flavors of cooked berries, orange, caramel, and tropical fruit. Look for a sweet guava paste note and subtle florals on the aftertaste as the coffee cools.

Mario Salazar Cabrera is the treasurer of the Divino Niño producer group and comes from a family that has been producing coffee in the region for decades. This spectacular lot from Mario’s farm, Finca El Sinai, was awarded 2nd place at the inaugural Copa Suaceña: a regional cupping competition organized to highlight the very best coffees produced by individual members of two producer groups in southern Huila, Colombia that Passenger has been buying from for the past two years.

Mario is a colorful and charismatic leader within his community. While his memorable coffee was the second place finisher in the Copa Suaceña, he was undeniably the first on the dance floor at the community celebration that followed the competition! His farm, Finca El Sinai, has been in his family for at least 30 years and he currently cultivates a wide range of coffee varieties including caturra, castillo, colombia, pink bourbon, and typica. While Don Mario maintained an air of mystery regarding the varieties that he chose to include in his competition lot, we would wager a guess that his pink bourbon and typica were prominent inclusions.

2019 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: 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 two years.

Producer, Jose Cuellar

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 all year round on our menu under the name Divino Niño.

Evan and Carl, pictured with Jose Jadir Losada of Osito (left) and Edilma Polania Bermeo and her family (she is the managing director of The Cooperativa Divino Niño

Given the consistently high quality of the community blend that these producers have delivered over the last couple years, it was a unique pleasure to have the opportunity to taste select coffees from individual members of the group for the first time on the competition cupping table. Over the course of three days, the small panel of judges blindly evaluated a carefully screened selection of 24 lots, narrowing the entries down to the top 10 coffees, and then re-cupped the top 10 again on the last day to ultimately determine the final ranking.

German Cordoba with his wife Adeisa González

German Cordoba's Yellow Tabi

The purchase of a number of competition lots from the Copa Suaceña is an exciting development within the broad sourcing partnership that Passenger has been gradually building over time with the producers of Divino Niño and ASOCAFOR. The first step was the addition of the Divino Niño blend to Passenger’s Foundational Menu, making it feasible for us to pay fixed prices on an on-going basis for the vast majority of the 86+ coffee that these 34 small farms produce annually. The second step in our pursuit of a deeper partnership centered on the creation of a home for coffees produced by the same farmers that achieve slightly lower quality scores (in the 84-85 pt. range). By founding our sister roasting company Necessary Coffee we were able to start buying these coffees from Divino Niño and ASOCAFOR as well.

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 hope for the future.