Colombia Luis Vargas
The best time of the year is… well, all year long. Colombia has a unique advantage where there is one long main harvest, followed by a shorter, smaller harvest called Mitaca. We cupped this particular coffee right before the global pandemic while visiting our friends in Medellin, Colombia. During the harvest, there are often times when a buyer needs to be in two places at once. In this case the harvest in Kenya coincided with the harvest in Colombia. Jon flew to Colombia to visit our partners at Pergamino, and Dakota flew to Kenya to cup and select our lineup for the year. During the visit to Pergamino, we cup a number of lot separations, building them into macro-lots for our blends like Geometry and Monarch. During that process, there are often single producer microlots that stand out from the rest. In this particular case, we selected this micro-lot to be separated as a single origin offering due to it’s notable sweetness and silky texture.
This coffee is grown in Urrao, Antioquia, which is one of our favorite growing regions of Colombia. El Jardin is a small farm operated by Luis Vargas. Like many of small holders in the area, Luis grows coffee on a hectare of land, where he also produces bananas and citrus fruits. All the coffee produced on El Jardin is milled and dried on site, where there is a small parabolic raised bed for the parchment to dry on. Luis practices a mixed-fermentation method, where freshly pulped coffee is added to a tank of coffee that was milled the day before. When this is done well, it produces a wonderful balanced acidity and a layered sweetness unlike that of traditionally washed coffees. Luis is growing Caturra Chiroso at El Jardin, which is a local and natural mutation of the caturra variety. Read more on Caturra Chiroso below…
We asked our friend Pedro Miguel Echavarría at Pergamino to give us a short history on Caturra Chiroso, this is what he had to say - “It's an organic mutation of normal caturra that, as far as we know, happened in Urrao around 30 years ago. Local producers starting noticing a type of tree very similar to their normal caturra, with the difference that it had a more elongated bean and really high productivity. They (producers in Antioquia) promoted it initially as a high yielding variety, it was only until the Cup of Excellence in 2014 when Jose Arcadio Caro participated with that variety and was the first Antioquian grower to reach the top 10.” In our tasting experience, this caturra tends to be more floral than it’s traditional sibling. When processed well, it has a pleasant silky texture as well as a complex sweetness reminiscent of ripe stone fruit.
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 disc pulper, which removes the fruit from the seeds (beans). After that phase is done, the coffee is fermented underwater for approximately 36 hours, with the water drained and refreshed once in that cycle. Then, the parchment is emptied into the washing channels, where it is agitated with rakes. During this step, the water is refreshed twice. Once the washing is complete, the coffee undergoes the traditional “double wash,” where it rests in the soaking tank for another 12 hours, before being taken to the raised drying tables for sun drying.
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 – Coming Soon!
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
Colombia Luis Alvaro Vargas
This is a Relationship Coffee that comes from our friends at Pergamino Coffee. We traveled to Medellin, Colombia in February to build a few lots and to select some microlots to become the backbone of our Colombia offerings. We purchased ten, 70-kg bags of this coffee for $3.71/lb ex-warehouse. We cupped this offering at an 86 on the SCA cupping form, and Royal NY imported this lot.
- The Coffee Commodity purchase price was $1.19/lb when we purchased this coffee.
- The Fair Trade Coffee minimum price was $1.60/lb when we purchased 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 from 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 up front 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.