Colombia La Pirámide
In southwestern Colombia, high in the Cordillera Central of the Andes, you can find the community of Inzá. This area is an old coffee-growing region where they still grow the first coffee varieties brought to the Americas. Typica was first grown around Colombia, though over the last forty years, the Federation (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros) has been replacing it with Caturra, Colombia, and the disease-resistant Castillo. Though no doubt these varieties have been instrumental in the livelihood of the farmers across Colombia, many of the small-holders in the Inzá and Huila region still grow Typica that was first cultivated here. The combination of guerrilla groups and impassable roads caused this municipality to be left out of the spread of the FNC’s varieties that are now ubiquitous. The quality of the cup is now reminiscent of a ‘vintage’ Colombia coffee. When it is healthy, Typica yields a delicate florality and tea notes that accompany dried fruit notes linked to the terroir of Colombian coffees.
In Pedregal, ASORCAFE cups through hundreds of coffees produced in Inzá, they often build regional lots and microlots to give farmers access to the coffee market outside of taking their production to the town and selling them on the market for low prices. We worked with our friends Caravela Coffee to build this La Pirámide lot with ASORCAFE. This partnership came about after Caravela visited our Arkansas headquarters, where we cupped together and discovered our mutual love for coffee from Inzá. Here’s what they say about their work in Inzá:
”Inzá is a municipality located in a sacred valley that sits below the elevated mountains that separate Huila and Cauca. More than 14 centuries of history and tradition of native indigenous tribes make Inzá ones of Colombia’s richest archaeological treasures, home to the archeological park of Tierradentro. These indigenous cultures chose Inzá as their home because it is a place where many rivers converge, making this territory a fertile and magical place.
“Although Inzá is located remotely, it is definitely a place worth visiting. This region has ethnic diversity, an amazing artisanal culture, stunning views, and of course, one of Colombia’s best coffees. Coffee growers in this area used to sell their coffee to intermediaries, who blended it and sold it as “Coffee from Huila”. In 2003, Caravela started buying coffee directly from a group of small but passionate coffee producers from the region and selling it as a single-origin to roasters around the world, with full transparency and traceability. For us, coffees from Inzá are special because of the long-standing relationships that we have forged and the impact that these have generated on the lives of hundreds of families and on communities once forgotten.”
Once the coffee is picked, processed, and dried, it still has a necessary step before it's ready for export. Dried coffee, which we refer to as parchment. The final processing stage is not only to remove the dried layer of parchment from the seed, but it's also a stage in many levels of quality checks that coffee passes through in Colombia. The first stage is hulling and de-stoning, removing the parchment as well as any chips of drying beds that may have gotten into the coffee. Parchment is separated by air and used as a fuel source for other stages of milling that may require heat. Once the seeds are hulled, they're then separated by size or screen size. The screens they pass through, and the final prep size is dictated by contract specifications. From sizing, the coffees are then separated by density, as a final check that the exportable green coffee is homogeneous before it gets to the roaster. Density is separated on a densimetric table. This is a clever bit of technology that allows more dense seeds to climb up, while the less dense coffees are separated off the bottom. Density is extremely important when it comes to roasting, as less dense coffees tend to roast at a different rate than denser, leading to uneven roasts. The final stage is a visual check, done by an optical sorter. Coffee is passed at a high rate of speed through a vertical chute, where cameras capture color and visual info about the coffee, quickly separating seeds that don't meet standards with a puff of air. As technology continues to evolve in coffee, preparation gets better and better, improving cup quality by many points...
Wanna know more about how we brew? Then visit our brew methods page cause "this is how we brew it" (think Montell Jordan when reading that last part).
FILTER – Stagg [X] Dripper
20g Coffee : 300g Water 200°F
La Piramide has a crisp and clear flavor profile. Crisp pear with panela, dried cherry tart, and sweet, finishing like a strong black tea. We enjoyed the Stagg [X] Dripper for this coffee because its build allows you to modulate your flavor a little more. If you pour the 300g more quickly and drain faster, it will accentuate the tartness and fruitiness, too tart, and it could be under-extracted. If you pour the 300g more slowly and drain slower, it will accentuate the brown sugar notes and dried fruit, too bitter, and it could be over-extracted.
ESPRESSO – Modbar EP
Brew Temp: 198°F, Line Pressure: ~3.5 bars, Max Pressure: 9 bars
Pressure Profile: 0 sec to 4 sec - line pressure, from 4 sec till done - 9 bars
20g in : 45g out @ 23s
This Colombian coffee is brighter as espresso than as a filter offering. Expect brighter and sweet pear with dark cherry and panela. The black tea is a little gentler in this extraction. If your shot pulls too quickly, under-extracts, this shot is salty and grassy. If your shot pulls too long, over-extracts, it tastes more tannic and bitter like fruit skin and lacks long-lasting sweetness.
Colombia La Pirámide
This coffee came to us by way of our friends at Caravela Coffee. They were kind enough to visit us at our HQ in Arkansas, where they had a Cost of Production event, looking at data they’ve gathered on what it costs to produce coffee in Colombia and beyond. During that event, we cupped together and found a mutual interest in coffees from Inzá. In the coming harvest, they flagged this lot for us, and we cupped the pre-ship sample. We scored it at an 87, and we purchased ten 70-kg bags of this coffee for $4.24/lb ex-warehouse on an arrival contract.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $0.96/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we bought this coffee.
* We as a company believe transparency is unbelievably important. However, we decided only to list what is shown here because we don’t know where to stop. Do we list the amount of coffee lost in roasting due to moisture loss? Should we list our roaster Mark's salary? The warehouse rent? The utilities? The point of listing things above is not to justify what we charge or what we profit, but to give a realistic snapshot of the industry and how Specialty Coffee can be different than other commodity industries. If you have concerns feel free to email us and I’ll write you back when I’m available.
Relationship Coffee is an initiative we, at Onyx, have purposely created to describe our sourcing and buying practices and how we document them. Certifications like Direct Trade, Fair Trade, and others have impacted the coffee communities in mostly positive ways but also in some negative ways. We find that blanket terms and applying them to a multitude of business models no longer describes what we do.
In reality, every company is different, and we wanted to step out of the mold and create a new set of standards that exceeds in every department from quality to transparency to pricing. The growers, exporters, importers, associations, cooperatives, and other entities are always a set of relationships. To be honest, many are our friends as much as they are our producers and partners. We share information, family news, meals, housing, many faiths, and argue politics. Oh, and we love it. Relationship Coffee for Onyx is the mark of an honest exchange ethos that permeates our company, and we hope it encourages the growth of specialty coffee for the future.
We visited the farm or cupping lab and listened to the producer/agronomist or head cooperative/association to ascertain better knowledge about the culture and practices.
We cupped the coffee, and it scored to our industry-high standards.
We do not buy futures or multiple harvests to ensure that what we cupped for that year is what we serve.
We do not ask for exclusivity from producers, binding their options.
We pay what the coffee is worth. This always is at least double Fair Trade minimum due to the quality we buy, and many times is three to ten times the amount.
We do not finance any coffee. Cash flow is just as important as the final price. Coffee is paid in full upon delivery, and we pay a percentage upfront upon contracting.
We are completely transparent from price to logistics to cupping score, to who we work with buying and shipping coffee.
We work to set premiums after a contracted price to incentivize quality and community building. This can be .10¢ - .25¢ extra per pound or community projects such as school supplies in the growing village, sports jerseys, vented chimneys for kitchen fires, etc.