Here's another of the coffees we purchased from a small farmer group in Urrao, a region new to us this year. The farms in this area have incredible altitude, the valley floor at 1800 meters, and all of the farms we're buying from starting at 1900 meters. The intersection of high altitudes and cold natural springs sees longer fermentation times which seems to have an affect on the cup profile. The coffees from many of these farmers are fruit-forward, albeit without the edginess tasted in over-fermented coffees. This particular lot is from a single producer, Se±or G_mez. I haven't visited his farm yet, but he is one of just over 20 farmers who make up this group, assembled based off of their ability to consistently deliver high quality coffee. The coffees from this region are truly unique with fruited characteristics - tropical, berry, stone fruit, etc - rivaled only by incredibly high levels of sweetness. They are all basically neighbors, and have coordinated parchment deliveries to coincide with on-the-spot cupping and purchases made by an intermediary we work with. I took part in selections on my last visit and was impressed by the consistency from one lot to the next from group members. I am heading to Urrao again later this month to cup deliveries as well as pay a visit to group members, and hope to see Se±or G_mez this time around.
The dry fragrance of Hiller's coffee is like dried cherry, and red punch - the sort of tropical fruit punch mixed with apple and orange. The sweetness is intense as well, and light roasts have a scent of fruit-flavored honey sticks. Adding hot water builds a nice strawberry and dark sugar smell in the steam, the crust showing caramel-sweetness, and a mix of berry notes on the break. The cup is very fruit-forward, and as it cools has a pretty convincing flavor of black cherry juice. It's a very sweet coffee, a necessary component to accompany the level of fruit found in the cup. Acidity is the other key characteristic needed to provide structure to this fruited nature, which in the case of Hiller's coffee, is mild-to-moderate and tea-like. It's not 'high and bright', but enough to provide some level of a mouth-cleansing effect in the finish. Pulpy citrus and fruit syrup notes are well represented at most roast levels, and Full City roasts develop a bittersweet flavor of high % dark cacao bar, along with red plum and grape notes front and center. This is one intense, and complex cup, and while perhaps too exotic for some espresso drinkers, I would highly recommend to those who enjoy Kenyan espresso. Expect the same sort of fruit-forward nature of a Kenya coffee but with much more integrated acidity.