The name Pergamino coffee has been synonymous with high-quality Colombian coffee for years. We’ve long partnered with Pedro Echavarría to purchase coffees from their family estates, and over the last four years we’ve partnered with Pergamino on the Allied Producer Program, which we’ve utilized to source coffees for not only single-origin usage but also for our staple blends when washed coffees are needed. Through the network of the Allied Producer Program, we’ve sourced excellent full container lots for our blends, and while cupping through these coffees we find micro-lots that are higher quality: with marked delicate florals and higher acidity, which we separate out to feature as a single origin offering. We pay 10-20% more for these lots as they're separated out from the larger regional blends, yielding the producer anywhere from two to three times the C-Market price. This lot is the first of many lots we separated during our last visit to Pergamino.
Located far west in the Western Cordillera Andes mountains of Colombia, there is an association of women banding together with the name AMACA. The Asociación de Mujeres Productoras Agropecuarias del Cauca is a group of over 150 women who produce coffee on small farms throughout the region. Concentrated in the municipality of El Tambo, Cauca, the members of this association are considered small-holder growers- the vast majority of the farms only consist of 1-2 hectares of land suitable for coffee cultivation. Despite their small size, many of these farms have entire wet mills for on-site processing and drying, mostly due to the mountainous terrain forcing the onus of production and processing upon small holders. Despite the challenges of micro-mill processing and coffee production at large, AMACA has persevered for many years, no doubt owing to their hard work and dedication to each other. We are thankful to partner with them, and look forward to many more harvests.
This particular microlot comes from Deisy Yazmin Cortez, a key member of the AMACA group. During our tasting of the harvest, we separated out high-performing microlots with the help of Pergamino, paying a micro lot premium to incentivize quality and to support the efforts of AMACA.
WASHED PROCESSED COFFEES
The washed process begins with coffee cherries delivered to the washing station, both from the primary market or from farmers bringing their coffee directly to the mill. The cherries are inspected, and an initial quick round of hand-sorting separates the defective coffees before placing them into the hopper. They are then funneled to the depulper, which removes the fruit from the seeds (beans). After that phase is done, the coffee is fermented underwater for approximately 12-36 hours. During this fermentation, a microbial de-mucilagation takes place, which allows the outer fruit and pectin layer to break down, making the coffee easier to dry. This phase also crucially alters the organic acids within the coffee, as sugars and organic acids are transformed, with the best washed coffees maintaining their complex fruit esters. Once the fermentation is complete, the parchment is emptied into the washing channels, where it is agitated with rakes to remove the last of the fruit layer. During this step, the water is refreshed to ensure its capability of separating the fruit layer from the seed. Once the washing is complete, the coffee is taken to the raised drying tables for sun drying.