The Story -
Located high on the eastern edge of the Andes mountains, in the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia lies the groundbreaking coffee estate La Palma y El Tucan. Here, lies not only one of the greatest places for growing coffee on earth, but also a team with a vision. A vision not just to make extraordinary coffee, but to change the face of Colombian coffee production, forever. Through their unique implementation of technological, social and environmental innovations, they have found ways to produce other-worldly coffees, while working sustainably with their environment, and helping their neighbours. So it should come as no surprise that La Palma y El Tucan leads the way as one of the most influential coffee producers in Colombia.
This coffee comes from La Palma's Heroes Series, a collection of single-variety coffees grown on their estate scoring 89 points and above. This series of coffees is highly renowned in the coffee world, gracing the stages of competitions the world over. In fact, we used this coffee at the US Barista Championship this year, making it to finals along with three other people also using coffee from La Palma y El Tucan. If that isn't a testament to the greatness of these coffees, I don't know what is.
Gesha Variety -
Gesha is a variety of coffee, originally hailing from around the village of Gesha in Western Ethiopia. It was originally brought from Ethiopia to Latin America sometime in the 1950s for research and development purposes, but it quickly became largely forgotten. That is until the year 2003 when the Peterson family in Panama entered a small lot of gesha that they had discovered growing on their farm into the best of Panama competition. They won this competition by a landslide, and from here gesha took the coffee world by storm.
Renowned for it's intense floral, amazing sweetness and impeccable balance, gesha has become a benchmark in coffee quality. When it's grown in the right places, and taken care of by the right hands, it really does have the potential to produce extraordinary, one-of-a-kind flavour experiences. The gesha seeds that grow at La Palma y El Tucan were originally sourced from the Peterson family in Panama, and share many of the same characteristics that originally shook the coffee world.
Lactic Process -
Lactic processing is a unique method of coffee processing largely championed by La Palma y El Tucan. In this style of processing, whole coffee cherries are picked and then placed into a container, where they are sealed off from oxygen. They are let to ferment in this oxygen-free environment for 60 hours, and it is here that Lactic Bacteria begins to form. These bacteria begin to eat away at the sugars in the cherries, leaving behind their byproduct - lactic acid.
This lactic acid leaves a profound impact on the coffee's flavour. It contributes to a one-of-a-kind coating and silky mouthfeel. A mouthfeel that's almost lactic-like (think yoghurt?), and really only found in coffees processed this way. It also helps contribute to more intense fruit flavours and bright acidity.
This year, we bought 5 different lots from La Palma - two from the neighbours & crops programme, and three from the Heroes Series. The heroes series coffees were shipped to us directly from La Palma, while Ally Coffee helped us bring in the larger Neighbours & Crops lot.
We paid $46.20 per pound for this coffee, and we cupped it at a mind-boggling 91. This really is a special coffee.
Brewing Information -
We used this coffee for the espresso portion of the US Barista Championship, but it also makes a fantastic filter coffee. Being a competition coffee, we've gotten to know it quite well, so here are some tips on how to brew it -
As an espresso, this coffee is coating, silky, bright and very fruity and floral. I absolutely ADORE this coffee as an espresso. Here's a good starting point -
- 18g Dose
- 48g Yield
- 22 - 26 Seconds
This coffee is very bright, so it helps to have a nice large brew ratio to help tame that acidity and spread out some of it's more complex fruit flavours. This coffee is interesting in that you'll mostly taste problems with extraction only in the finish, so if you mess it up its still worth taking a sip and then just spit it out, haha! If it's underextracted, you'll have a very bright finish, with overbearing citrus acidity, and a lack of sweetness. When overextracted, it will have a really long bitter finish and cloying mouthfeel.
When you get this coffee dialled to the sweet spot, though, you'll find a beautiful and intense floral aroma like jasmine, and structured flavours of sweet floral honey, tangerine and juicy pomegranate, floral lime zest and a longgg sweet finish. I truly cannot get enough of this espresso!
Filter Coffee -
This coffee also makes a beautifully balanced, juicy and sweet filter coffee, with a tonne of floral and juicy fruit flavours. You'll even get some tropical fruit flavours showing up in this brewed coffee that you don't find in the espresso. We've been digging the V60 for this coffee, as it works to highlight the coffees florals and juicy acidity.
- 20g Dose
- 320g Yield
- ~2:30 brew time
We favour just two pours here - a bloom and the main pour. We bloom with 60g of water (at 201ºF) for 30 seconds. Then, we pour the remaining water in small, concentric circles around the brew bed, aiming to finish pouring at 1:05. Now, this coffee can drain QUICK! Don't be afraid to let it finish pretty quickly, we've been finding if tasting great at around 2:30!
When this coffee is underextracted, you'll taste citrus and not a lot else. You'll be missing a lot of its sweetness, and the acidity won't be juicy. When it's overextracted, the coffee will be quite dry, and you'll again be missing a lot of the sweet juicy fruits. It will just taste a bit bland.
When you get it right though, you'll taste layers of citrus like tangerine, red fruits like pomegranate and cherry cordial, tropical fruits like pineapple and mango, white grape, jasmine, floral honey and a number of other delicious things. It's a wonderfully complex brew!