||Colombia Viota Palmares CO2 Decaf 2020
||Varietals: Caturra and Castillo
Finding a good decaf can be tricky, but this one stood out for us when we tasted it as a really balanced, easy drinking, decaffeinated option. It comes from smallholder families around Viota - a small town about 80kg west of Bogota. It's here in the Cundinamarca region that some of the first coffee imported to Colombia was planted, back in 1879.
Back then in 1879, when the Colombian government announced that it would support coffee production, coffee plants were imported from Liberia, Africa. When the first boats arrived, entrepreneurial farmers from Bogotá decided to plant their trees nearby, in the town of Viotá. Since then, coffee has hugely influenced both local traditions and society as a whole.
It is no surprise that coffee is the leading agricultural activity in the region. Other crops such as plantain and citrus fruits are also grown, but primarily to provide shade for the coffee trees as well as extra income. Most farms are no larger than 3-5 hectares. However, these small scale farming activities provide the largest percentage of employment by a significant margin. The importance of coffee to the local economy and to livelihoods cannot be overstated.
Every family manages their own cultivation as well as harvesting - usually with the help of neighbours and extended family. Coffee is processed in the traditional way, where cherries are selectively handpicked and placed in tanks filled with clean water. Heavy cherries that sink to the bottom of the tank are then pulped by passing them through a pulper at the family farm (usually located close to the main house), before moving to fermentation. Coffee is then fermented anywhere from 12 to 18 hours, depending on the weather, before again being washed using cold, clean water.
Once fermentation is complete, many of the farmers sundry their parchment on patios or on the roofs of their houses. Some farmers dry their coffee on parabolic beds under the sun. These parabolic beds, known locally as marquesinas –constructed a bit like ‘hoop house’ greenhouses, with airflow ensured through openings in both ends – both protect the parchment from rain and mist as it is dried and prevent condensation from dripping back on the drying beans.
The coffee is made up from Caturra (which is high yielding and has been cultivated in Colombia for at least 70 years) and Castillo (a disease-resistant hybrid produced by CENICAFE, Colombia's national coffee research body). Once the ripe cherries are picked, they have the fruit removed and go through a washed process of soaking in water before they are dried.
This lot was then decaffeinated via the CO2 method. This means using a mix of pressurised Carbon Dioxide and water to remove the caffeine from the green beans. First, the beans are steamed to soften them, before high-pressure CO2 and Water are added. The caffeine is soluble in the CO2, which is separated later and reused. The green beans, with nearly all the caffeine (at least 99.9%) removed, are then dried and shipped to the UK.
An easy drinker that won't keep you awake, this is full of cocoa powder and walnut. There's a little hit of green apple and a sweetness which reminds me of an old fashioned bar of toffee.
Producers: Various smallholder families living near Viotá
Farm Size: 37 Hectares
Altitude: 1,400 - 1,800 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: Caturra and Castillo
Decaffeination method: CO2
Cocoa powder, walnut, green apple, toffee
Clean Cup: (1-8): 6
Sweetness: (1-8): 6.5
Acidity: (1-8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1-8): 6
Flavour: (1-8): 6
Aftertaste: (1-8): 6
Balance: (1-8): 6.5
Overall: (1-8): 6
Correction: (+36): +36
Total: (max 100): 85
Medium-dark - take this through 1st and give it a little time to develop, but drop just as you reach the first pops of second. Watch out with decafs, as the processing will mean the bean structure is very weak and you can get very dark colours or even a shine of oils at a low level of roast.
« Back to Coffee Archive