This coffee was selected as one of the top lots during the Mejor de Nariño cupping competition and auction co-sponsored by Royal Coffee and Inconexus. In total, the Inconexus team evaluated 300 samples to find 30 of the best for the international buyers to evaluate. Back in August, we rolled deep into Nariño, bringing roasters in our posse to champion the spectacular coffees from the region – check out Founder Bob Fulmer’s summary of the event here.
Libardo Lasso produced this lot on his farm called El Balso, located in the community of Brucelas in the municipality of Buesaco within the department of Nariño, Colombia. Libardo uses his own micro-mill to process harvested cherries, which allows for meticulous care in depulping, fermenting, and drying the coffee.
The department of Nariño has about 40,000 coffee farms, two-thirds of which, average around 3 acres in size. Nariño’s proximity to the equator delivers intense exposure to the sun (relatively constant and powerful year-round), which influences the cherry maturation rate. In Buesaco, warm air rises from the deep canyons at night and acts like a protective blanket for the coffee plants perched on the mountain tops. These combined attributes cause coffee plants to passively absorb the sun’s energy during the day and then come alive at night when the conditions are less harsh. This translates into concentrated flowering and long cherry maturation periods.
Libardo’s coffee is 100% Caturra, a naturally occurring mutation of the heirloom Bourbon variety. First identified in Brazil in the early part of the 20th century, Caturra is a dwarf tree with resistance to windy conditions. It has proliferated extensively throughout the Americas, in part due to its high productivity (despite above average fertilization requirements) and the fact that the trees can be planted more densely than comparably yielding cultivars. It continues to be a popular choice in Colombia, however there has been a push to replace it wholesale with the heartier variety Castillo. This has met resistance from some cuppers who believe Castillo is incapable of achieving the same quality of flavor.
Slightly elevated moisture figures, a bit of a spread in screen size, and an unsurprisingly high density – typical for Nariño coffees grown at such high elevations – may require a little extra attention during roasting, so keep an eye on Jen’s roasting notes for this stand-out auction lot.
A wonderful coffee that is easy to manipulate in the drum and can produce many flavor profiles. Are you looking for a bright crisp green grape with pineapple and a hint of rose like our first roast, PR-463 with its high energy and short total roast time? Or do peach preserves, tamarind and pecan pie sound more appealing like in our longer second roast PR-464. Both coffees achieved the same internal and external ratio on the Colortrack. Pr-464 was just slightly darker by 0.3 which is not very far off in comparison. In my opinion, PR-463 achieved a cleaner and brighter acidity, while PR-464 had a pleasant stickiness and a sweet complexity.
Chris prepared two Chemex pots of this lovely coffee upstairs, surprising us all out of our headphones with the assault of fragrant coffee steam that heralded his entrance into our downstairs office. Befuddled, and with glasses of this glorious bean juice thrust in front of us, we all sipped and quickly dropped what we were doing. I think i was writing something else, or maybe preparing a post for our Instagram feed, but really everything else sort of faded into the background when I started sipping on this coffee.
That is to say, I think we liked it.
PR-463 was rife with green grape and starfruit notes, crisp and brightly acidic in prelude to a heavy chocolate finish. A touch of the savory balanced this pleasant acidity out in the form of a salted caramel note. Nearly everyone noted cranberry tartness, and a few of us found a plummy fruit note.
Chris, ever the iconoclast, preferred PR-464 over the previous roast. None of us could blame him however, as we all found this roast very pleasing. Blood orange acidity and clear, clean sugars made this roast very pleasant, playing up the sweet tart nature of this coffee while obscuring crisp and punchy acidity. A brown sugar finish lingers with this roast, and there’s certainly nothing to scoff at in this roast.