||Colombia Finca Santuario Aquacatillo Washed Red Typica 2016
|| Varietal: Red Typica
The story starts back in 2009 when it seemed like we had been searching for a great Colombian coffee forever. This had been much harder than it should have been, with Colombian yields massively down and lots of the coffee being hoovered up by people with big pockets who just needed to have a Colombian, regardless of the quality. We found this farm on the offer sheet of an importer we don't usually use, but we bought the coffee because it was tasting great and had a great back story too.
We stocked the 2009 Typica crop from this farm and it was only a small lot, but it was so popular and so enjoyed that it was gone in two and a half weeks. We had expected it would last until the new crop was due to arrive, many weeks later. So we stocked a good amount of it last year (and it still flew out of the door).
The coffee, and the farm, become a favourite. But this year we found out from Camilo that the importer would not be bringing in the coffee and all the hard work, searching, and cupping would be wasted. So cue the music and a flight to Colombia (tagged on to the start of my trip to the World Barista Championships); I flew out to see Camilo and to try to fix this.
We bought directly, but some communication issues and shipment problems meant we lost this farm. It was so sad, and I don't think I ever truly forgot this coffee.
Fast forward to Seattle last year at the World Barista Championships (yes, another championship), and I bump into Camillo. After a long conversation, we decided it was for sure worth another try.
Camilo is one of the leading lights and, you could say, a template for the future of the Colombian coffee industry. I’ll try to quantify that statement: for years Colombia has had a great reputation, and has achieved great prices (even when markets were low, the Colombian differential was always high). But changes in climate and issues with plant diseases (leaf rust is a huge problem in Colombia) have put pressure on yields, and so put pressure on farms to change traditional plant stock for that of more disease-resistant strains such as Castillo, Catimor and Colombia. The problem with this is that these varietals don’t take into account what's important to me: how it tastes.
Camilo is working with varietals purely for their intrinsic taste values and to make the best farm – not just in the region or in Colombia, but in the world. He is constantly asking questions, working with interesting irrigation ideas to work against the change in climate, and he’s even building a giant greenhouse for an experimental lot of growing coffee under cover.
This crazy approach to growing coffee is nothing new to Camilo. He bought the land that Santuario now sits on, before it had any coffee on it at all. The land had previously been grazing ground for cattle. It was barren and in a rather bad way, but it seemed there was potential for great Colombian coffee to be grown. With an altitude of 1,800–2,100 metres, low temperatures at night (but not too low), and high temperatures during the day (again not too high), the land had possibilities.
With active agronomy, soil management and careful varietal selection, this farm is now one of the most amazing coffee experiments I have seen. If I were to build a farm (and one day, I hope, that will happen), this would be the model I would follow. Camilo has selected Typica and Bourbon as the main crop (80%), and he also has experimental lots of Geisha, Maragogype and Mocha (20%). You can see by the map below that this farm has been meticulously planned and every piece designed to fit in with each other.
Aguacatillo is a tablon on the farm, and the first time I’ve seen this lot, and the good news is it's delicious.
In the cup this starts out as baker’s chocolate with lots of? ?brown sugar alongside a delicious sweet and juicy lime? ?acidity. A ?chocolate lime sweet in a cup.
Farm: Finca Santuario
Owner: Camilo Merizald
Farm Size: 135.4 hectares
Coffee growing size: 62.9 Hectares
Varietal: Red Typica
Altitude: This lot 2,050 m.a.s.l. rest of farm (1,890 - 2,010 m.a.s.l.)
Between cracks, medium dark.
"Quick Look" Guide
Baker's chocolate, brown sugar, lime acidity, chocolate lime sweet.
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