This java variety is a super exciting offering for us. After years of walking the farm over the past harvests, we’ve personally watched these diminutive java trees grow. When new varieties are introduced to a farm, it means that the producer has sacrificed valuable space and time to cultivating a new variety. Once planted, new coffee trees will take up to three to four years to produce a viable harvest, meaning that once planted, the financial input each harvest is high- with managing undergrowth and fertilization. These Java trees were planted back when I (Dakota) lived on the farm. Planted amongst the shade trees near a river, they’ve grown alongside the chickens that have grazed the area, helping maintain the biodiversity and undergrowth. Coming full circle with watching these small trees from planting to harvesting is really satisfying, and it’s truly an honor to feature this Java in the Echelon program.
LA PALMA Y EL TUCÁN
Time and time again, La Palma y El Tucán has proven their greatness by producing some of the world’s best micro-lots. We turn to them each season not only for high-end competition lots but also for each season’s special releases. Our shared history spans back to 2013, when Jon Allen, co-owner of Onyx, first met Filipe and Elisa when sourcing coffee in Colombia. This initial meeting launched a years-long friendship and partnership that produced an article in Fresh Cup Magazine and resulted in Onyx being one of the first coffee roasters to purchase from La Palma. This partnership runs deeper than just transactions across countries but spans years of meals, trips, failed experiments, and shared victories. In 2017, Dakota, Green Buyer for Onyx, spent four months living in a cabin on the farm learning the intricacies of coffee production and QC cupping on a farm level, which was instrumental in him finding his way to the Onyx team. Over the course of the Onyx shared experience with the team of La Palma Y El Tucán, it is clear that Felipe and Elisa have a unique passion and vision for Colombian coffee. The farm has a unique layout with each variety planted in an artful way that encourages exceptional production and is also beautiful. The coffee is picked as it ripens by a team of women whose job is to make pass after pass, day after day, to choose only the best cherries. La Palma’s small wet mill is designed to showcase how fermentation can encourage coffees to show flavors you could only dream of. Their dedication to quality is rivaled by their desire to change the future of production in Colombia - to create new ways for producers to approach farming, processing, marketing. This, in turn, could create incredible change for generational coffee producers in Colombia and many more to come. It is clear that they care deeply about the future of coffee production in Colombia. Everything they do is based on creating jobs for people in their communities, offering an opportunity to neighboring producers, and encouraging coffee as a viable, sustainable way of life.
NATURALLY PROCESSED COFFEE
Natural coffees are beautiful…Okay, natural coffees are beautiful when done properly, but can be equally terrible when things go wrong. Natural processing, or dry processing, refers to the act of drying and fermenting coffee inside the cherry. Long before the age of portafilter tattoos and dual-boiler home espresso machines, coffee was picked and dried this way out of convenience. It is, to this day, still the most convenient and economically friendly way to process coffee cherries. (It’s estimated that dry-processing can use up to 90% less water than the washing process.) So why isn’t all coffee processed this way? Well, as coffee made its way across the world, it was commoditized and standardized, just like all other products spread by colonialism, but that’s a whole other story... Adding to the boom of washed processing, the natural process method can be tricky to get right, due to the delicate nature of fermentation and drying. What does all this have to do with the final cup? Well, when you leave the skin and fruit of the coffee cherry on the seed throughout fermentation and drying, that fruit begins to break down, imparting esters that impart delicate florals and big fruit notes into the seed that survive the roasting process. If it’s rushed or handled incorrectly, this fruit rot can lend off-flavors to the coffee, making the final cup dirty or ‘fermenty.’ Basically, that single cherry begins to slowly decay, and controlling that delicate action through advanced technique and metrics allow us, lucky folks, to drink wonderfully floral and fruity coffees. We have long promoted natural processed coffees, and this La Palma Natural Gesha is just one of the reasons we do.