If you've all been paying attention to my writing this fall you know how near and dear top Southern Colombian coffees are to my heart. Its my favorite Latin American origin. Read more about the San Antonio cup profile below as this coffee plays right into my thought process behind this idea. The region itself is a stunner. Vegetation covered Andean mountains jutting out from the landscape across the valley like emeralds. The river Paez splits two Departments from each other here, Huila from Cauca. Getting out to San Antonio has been arduous. In the past year, heavy rains and the resulting rising rivers knocked out a bridge that connects the growing region to the nearest major city with a municipal airport. It has not been rebuilt, and now this "road less traveled" includes a river crossing via motorized canoe. The extra work to get up there has been worth it without question.
We've done more lot separation, on a regional level, this year than we've ever done in the past. San Antonio is the equivalent of what we would call a county here in the states. The coffee is grown in the tiny hamlets perched up in surrounding highlands at altitudes ranging from 1700 masl to over 2000 masl. Due to its isolation, San Antonio has escaped a lot of the Colombia and Castillo varietal (Catimor) propaganda from the government. Caturra still reigns supreme and we've even found small amounts of Bourbon and Typica mixed in with it. Processing is simple - manual depulping, 18-22 hour fermentation in tiled tanks, washing in the same tanks, and drying on raised, parabolic beds. Sometimes simplicity is beauty.
Tom, Dan and I continue to spend hours and hours of our weeks dedicated to separating the best of these coffees from the rest and constructing lots that are unique from each other. At this point we must be close to 1,000 samples from this group. Lot 175 is not a large lot and I expect it to be popular. Try it and let us know what you think.
San Antonio is a coffee that I want to drink every day. Typically, that distinction goes to floral, elegant washed Ethiopian coffees, but sweet, juicy, heavy bodied Latin American coffees can also make it into that fold. The fragrance of the dry grounds showed heaps of brown sugar and marzipan sweetness. Dried fruits like raisin and prune accent those aromas with hints of honey and toasted sugar lingering in the background. The crust is a bit lighter on the sweetness but still nuanced with butter cookie, vanilla and walnut. The break demonstrates a bit more on the fruit complexity with cherry and apricot coming into play. San Antonio is one of those coffees that I consider to be 'complete'. Aromatically complex, its a coffee that is accentuated by its heavy sweetness and weighted mouth feel. Its acidity is subtle, elegant and refreshing. Its like the perfectly stitched seam that holds a well made garment together. The cup profile leans towards darker fruits like raisin and tamarind. Fruits with high sugar content that are as sweet as they are bright. We find an interesting spice aspect to the cup profile as well that leans towards cinnamon stick and even Indian chai spice. The mouth feel is milky. Spice is typically a note that I pick up on in the aromatics, and rarely in the cup profile itself. As it coo sit reminded me a very fine drinking chocolate; maybe dutch drinking chocolate.The finish on San Antonio is, again, sweet. Panela and muscovado sugar linger long after finishing up on the table. In the past I've often spoke of "approachable" coffees for our general audiences. This coffee is at the pinnacle of that ideal. Its complex enough to make your customers think about what they're drinking but not overwhelming in the least. Its the kind of coffee that folks gravitate towards to over and over again. In my days working for a roasting company I often saw this trend from customers towards the best Southern Colombias, Antigua, Huehuetenago and few other origins. Something to chew on....