Im my opinion Colombia is part of coffee's holy trinity with Ethiopia and Kenya. (Cue, tomato throwing Guatemalan fanatics i.e. Thompson Owen)
Colombia has such fantastic diversity from north to south in terms of the geographical aesthetic, altitude, micro climates and yes, coffee flavors. Now its important to note that I'm a sucker for sweetness in coffees. Along with absolute cleanliness I really don't think there is any more important sensory component in a coffee's flavor profile. It's an indication of proper cherry selection and, as you all know, we are dealing with a fruit here. Pedregal coffees are so sweet and the range of sweetness is maybe what's most impressive. Brown sugar and raw honey perfume the aromatics intensely while, although still present in the cup itself, juicy fruit flavors like green grape and red apple are most apparent. These are some of the sweetest coffees. I know them better than most as I've been working with this group for what is now the 7th consecutive year.
Getting out to Pedregal is 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. It's all in the spirit of adventure, right? Anyway, we've done more lot separation, on a regional level, this year than we've ever done in the past. Pedregal 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. La Palmera, Agua Blanca, Palmichal, La Venta, La Milagrosa, San Jose, San Rafael, etc each produce coffee that can fairly unique from another. Due to its isolation Pedregal 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.
Folks, these are world class coffees. Their completeness and complexity are hard to match in Latin America. Tom, Dan and myself have spent days on end this summer evaluating Pedregal coffees and constructing these lots. Along with a couple of visits, with a third in the mix for October, we're heavily invested in this project. The mitaca is now finishing up although the main harvest begins anew this fall. We'll have a fairly consistent supply of these coffees coming through the year due to climate change and the constant rainfall/flowering in Colombia. All of that said, I expect these coffees to be very popular so get them while you can.
If you read the farm notes then you know our Pedregal lots are sweetness driven. Brown sugar and toffee waft from the aromatics of the dry grinds along with dark honey and a sweet, allspice note. The break offered a different take with fleshy fruit notes like mango and apricot. The cup profile on these lots demonstrates a large range of both sweetness and acidity often meshing well together as an aggregate expression of fruit. Green grape, or even white grape juice really, is most dominant although crisp, juicy Asian pear and red delicious are regularly apparent as well. As these coffees cool the sugar browning sweetness in them really takes over. Panela is one of the most intensely sweet and memorable taste experiences I can remember. Essentially its sugar cane processed and molded in simple fashion (see photos). Colombians and folks across rural Latin America often make their own panela to use as sweeteners and candies. Although slightly more floral and perfume-y panela is reminiscent of muscovado sugar with its deep, molasses-like sweetness. These Pedregal lots are laden with that panela/muscovado sugar flavor. As they cool, and getting past that particular note, a sweet citrus flavor like meyer lemon appears along with a toasted hazelnut warmness. Cool, a fine dutch drinking chocolate quality rounds the cup out kinda like fancy chocolate milk.