Colombia Cerro Azul SL-34 - Raspberry, Raw Honey, Umeshu, Silky (Color: Midnight)
Gesha - Rose, Mango, Jasmine, Sugar Cane (Color: Mustard)
Sidra - Apple Cider, Strawberry, Raw Honey, Winey (Color: Pinot)
Mokka - Plum, Chocolate Malt, Green Apple, Brown Sugar (Color: Olive)
Cerro Azul was one of the first farms in Colombia to cultivate the famed Gesha variety. Now it is nearly commonplace, as farmers are vying for higher cup scores and the high prices they fetch, but Café Granja La Esperanza was one of the first to lead the charge. Their story begins in Valle de Cauca when in 1945, a man named Juan Antonio Herrera decided to plant more varieties alongside his Typica. Much like today, producing coffee was a family affair, and Juan Antonio and his eleven children focused on producing coffee on the Potosí farm. Two children, in particular, had a keen focus on coffee production and decided to take the coffee in a new direction. The two farms of Potosí and the newly acquired La Esperanza were converted to organic production in the late ’90s.
In 2007, Rigoberto had the opportunity to manage a farm in the famed coffee region of Boquete, Panama. The Gesha variety from his farm La Carleida won the Best of Panama a year later. Don Rigoberto made the choice to bring Gesha seed back from Panama to plant at La Esperanza, ushering in a new chapter for Colombian coffee production. Now Café Granja operates five distinct farms, Cerro Azul, Las Margaritas, La Esperanza, Pososí, and Hawaii. The farm of Cerro Azul is the highest in elevation, and we’ve found that it produces some of the best Geshas in the world. We have selected these coffees for competition year after year. With the absence of the competition season this year, we found ourselves with access to more offers from our friends at Granja. After cupping through a table of some incredibly interesting offers, we honed in on four varieties grown throughout their five farms.
CERRO AZUL GESHA NATURAL
The Cerro Azul farm regularly produces some of the top lots that we purchase from Granja la Esperanza. With elevation soaring up to 2,000 meters above sea level, the Gesha from this farm is easily one of the most complex coffees we purchase. The terroir lends a hand in the complex nature of this coffee, but with little need as the seed stock is from a long line of green-tipped Panamanian Gesha plants. (Much coveted throughout the world.) Layered guava, strawberry, and native Colombian fruit notes pair with a bright and almost sparkling acidity that is most pronounced on the cupping table. When brewed, this coffee exudes delicate florals paired with complex fruits and a heavy and pleasantly mouth-coating texture.
SL-34 is another lesser-known Scott Laboratory selection, with SL-28 looming over it as it has become more ubiquitous across central and south America. Both SL28, as well as 34, are tree selections from Kenya. During the mid-1900s, Scott Laboratories selected trees for higher density, as well as increased drought and disease resistance. SL34 is traceable down to the specific tree, where Scott Labs employees selected seeds from one tree labeled “French Mission.” However, further genetic testing illuminated the fact that this variety is more closely related to Typica than bourbon, highlighting the all too often phenomenon of mislabeled varieties or back ally swapping of seeds in the coffee world… As the Scott Labs varieties have spread all over the world (thanks to some of those back ally deals) industrious coffee producers have taken to planting SL34 in high elevation, such as Granja on their Potosi farm, which coffee is grown at elevations as high as 1800 meters. When this variety is grown at this elevation and processed with the precision that Cafe Granja uses at the mill, the cup profile is all fresh raspberries with bright citric acidity.
This variety is relatively new on the especially coffee scene, where offerings from Ecuador and Colombia have increased over the past few years. Rumored to be the cross of Bourbon and Typica, this variety has garnered equal parts praise and confusion across the specialty coffee world. (There’s even a Reddit thread exploring its origin.) This variety is easy to recognize on the cupping table, with it’s pronounced malic acidity and spice note that really is reminiscent of apple cider. Cafe Granja has planted this variety at their Potosi farm, where it grows near the SL34 variety also included in this box set.
This diminutive variety is both short in stature as well as seed size. Once roasted, this coffee is about half the size of any of its arabica cousins. Historically it’s thought to be a dwarf mutation of Bourbon, these plants produce nearly perfect round cherries and seeds. The resulting cup profile is markedly different than most arabica coffees, with a distinct tobacco and chocolate malt note, which has kept previous offers of this coffee from joining our lineup. When our friend Camilo sent us a sample of this Mokka late in the season, we were surprised by it’s pronounced green apple-like acidity and remarkable flavor clarity. No doubt their precision in growing and processing has yielded a wholly new cup profile of this well-known variety.