Tres Santos Colombia
- November 2016
- Written by : Geoff Watts
Vice President of Coffee / Green Coffee Buyer
Combine an unrivaled spectrum of unique growing conditions with a tremendous volume of production and the result is a coffee buyer’s dream. As one of the world’s few ‘megadiverse’ countries, Colombia is a member of a very exclusive club. It is home to nearly ten percent of the planet’s biodiversity, ranking first in total number of bird and orchid species and second in plants and butterflies. It owes this wealth of diversity to its prime location and rugged landscape; Colombia sits just above the equator at the head of the Andean mountain chain and is the only country on the continent that touches two oceans. Cool winds from the Pacific and warm Caribbean influences from the East create dynamic weather conditions, and the three mountain ranges that divide the country down the middle help to foster a vast number of unique microclimates. It is also the world’s second largest producer of Arabica coffee, and offers a huge diversity of coffees on par with that of its ecosystems.
Our decade-long fascination with the coffees of Colombia and the work we’ve done as part of our Tres Santos project has resulted in an impressive portfolio of coffees from all over the country. Throughout the year, we choose particular standout lots that we find memorable to showcase under this banner. To kick off November we are releasing the first of several small lots from the Cauca Department. When the Tres Santos program was first initiated nearly twelve years ago we began with producers from this part of the country, largely because we were especially attracted to the profile of coffees we’d tasted from the area. Well over a decade later, we’ve renewed our focus there and have now started working with a large group of individual smallholders in the municipality of Sotara. The seed for this new project was sown back in April when we met with a large group of producers from the community to discuss the upcoming harvest and talk about exploring a long-term plan to work together more closely. Throughout the summer we evaluated coffees from the group, isolating those with the most compelling sweetness and clarity and building a stockpile of coffees to work with. By early August the harvest had just about wrapped up and we returned to Colombia to meet with individual producers, taste the coffees together and cement our plans for lot separations and export.
Magnificent Seven (plus one)
This first release is a custom-built sizzler that combines coffees from seven individual farms in Sotara, all of which were standouts for their flavor attributes and elegance. The quality of each owes much to the efforts of these farmers over the past several years to improve their approach to both harvesting and post-harvest handling of their coffees. With some counsel from agronomists and technicians at Banexport, and in response to the incentive provided by quality-based premiums they’ve refined their controls over fermentation and drying and are producing coffees that deserve special attention. When tasted separately, every one of these coffees was delightful. Together they combine to become something altogether more complex and compelling. Oh yeah, and there is a secret ingredient. We included a new lot from a farm called Derrumbo that hails from another municipality in Cauca, El Tambo and is what some might refer to as a ‘ringer’—it was produced by Sr. Gerardo Escobar, whose coffee we released last harvest season as a limited release and was among the best tasting Colombian coffees we sold that year.