Llust'a Bolivia Limited Release
- March 2018
- Written by : Michael Sheridan
Director of Sustainability and Shared Value / Green Coffee Buyer
Bolivia remains a novelty origin in the world of specialty coffee: one that produces precious little coffee but a growing number of lots that are nothing short of extraordinary. It lies in the long shadows cast by its mighty neighbors, and it is easy to understand why. In 2016, Bolivia exported just 22,000 bags of coffee while its neighbors Brazil, Colombia and Peru exported more than 3.9, 12.8 and 34.2 million bags, respectively. But the commanding heights of Bolivia’s Andean coffee landscapes are ideal for coffee, and the country’s very best coffees are formidable, fully capable of standing toe-to-toe with the finest lots produced by its neighbors.
We remain bullish on Bolivia’s future as a specialty origin largely because we believe so deeply in our Direct Trade partners there. One is Finca Takesi, a unicorn of a farm perched so high up in the Andes that its dizzying upper reaches exceed 2500 m in elevation. The other is Agricafé, a vertically integrated specialty operation that is beginning to show some horizontal reach, bringing more regions and more growers every year into its fold and into the specialty market.
Agricafé is a two-generation affair led by Pedro Rodríguez, a coffee-loving-banker-turned-coffee-entrepreneur, and his children. Daniela manages the company’s commercial affairs while her brother Pedro Pablo leads innovation at the mill and in the field, both at the growing number of Rodríguez family farms and in its expanding outreach to groups of smallholder growers. The word that comes most readily to mind when I think of Agricafé is crisp. It seems perhaps the best way to describe the design and execution of everything the Rodríguez family does: postcard-perfect farms, pristine milling, precision lab and sleek communications. Across the board, Agricafé impresses from the design stage all the way through to execution, with few details left to chance. The crisp flavors in its coffees reflect its meticulous attention to detail.
The Rodríguez family is one of the primary reasons we have decided to take the Extraordinary Coffee Workshop, our annual supply chain gathering, to Bolivia this year — to hold them up to our Direct Trade partners from around the world as an example of what a relentless focus on quality looks and tastes like in the context of one of the world’s most exotic coffee origins.
But Agricafé doesn’t just export coffee from the Rodríguez family farms. It also works to create opportunities for its neighbors. This Bolivia Llusta Limited Release comes from its Sol de la Mañana project, an ambitious outgrower scheme that opens new channels to specialty markets for smallholder growers who live near the 12 Agricafé farms or its Buena Vista mill in Caranavi. Sol de la Mañana has helped us access smallholder coffees that we would have not been able to source in any other way, including this year’s Bolivia Llusta Limited Release, from the village of Llusta.