La Esperanza is the farm run by Pablo Emilio, a farmer who stands out not only because of his black, dapper, stingy-brim cap, but also due to the consistent high-quality micro lots he produces. He and his brothers all inherited land from their father 30 years ago, Pablo diving right into many forms of agriculture, though now focusing most of his efforts on coffee, his biggest source of income. His coffee has ranked highly at many of the local coffee competitions, most recently taking 3rd place at the 2014 Cup of Excellence. His 2000 meter farm is planted solely in caturra, both red and yellow varieties. Most farmers in this region mix multiple day's harvests when fermenting - basically adding a second day's harvest to the tank after the first has reached 24 hours, along with fresh water which slows down the fermentation process, and washing on the third day. It's actually a fairly common practice in many parts of the country, the result of small-holders trying to be most efficient when processing small batches of coffee. But Pablo ferments one day at a time for only 16 hours, then double-washes in buckets the next day. This exception maybe has more to do with the size of his bathtub-tank than anything else! Whatever the case I hope he doesn't change a thing as every sample we've tasted from La Esperanza has been very, very nice. The one downside of this first lot of coffee is that it's only 4 bags, not nearly enough to go around. But consider this a first look into what we hope will be a steady volume of Urrao coffees. We currently have 1/2 container-full about to land in Oakland next week.
What a perfumed aroma this Urrao coffee has, the ground coffee laced with fragrant tropical fruits and the sweet scent of fresh honey. It's potent, and adding hot water further develops the effect, with berry pie filling and plum pudding building in the steam. The brewed coffee is thick in both weight and sweetness, City+ roasts loaded with raw sugar and sweetened fruit syrups. As the cup cools, a honeyed flavor comes on brining with it notes of blackberry maple syrup and elderberry tea. There's a faint cocoa note in the long aftertaste, but ultimately edged out by hints of baked apple and black tea. This coffee takes a bit of heat in the roaster, altitude and varietal having a positive effect on density. As such, I found I had to hit it with higher heat in our sample roaster, which I imagine in production setting means more heat up front, and tapering off slowly (definitely not cutting heat altogether) at the signs of first crack. Sure, this one shows great at City and City+, but our Full City roast was delicious as well. This coffee builds an extremely rich chocolate side at deeper roast levels without compromising sweetness. I found FC to be very complex, with fruit flavors of grape juice, blueberry, which doubled as a nice espresso to.