Las Margaritas is one of a small group of third-generation family-owned farms located about a two hour drive north of Cali in Colombia’s Valle del Cauca department. Brothers Luis and Rigoberto Herrera have worked hard to make their farms models that exemplify the innovation and stewardship undertaken by their father, who first diversified their coffees to include Yellow and Red Bourbon, Caturra, and Typica back in 1945. This week, we have the opportunity to showcase their Sudan Rume variety alongside the Geisha from Cerro Azul.
We had the opportunity to host Rigoberto and his marketing/sales coordinator Felipe a few months ago here in the Bay Area, and then to join them for a whirlwind 2-day tour of Los Angeles to promote their coffees. Rigoberto is a man who exudes humility, passion, and vast knowledge of cultivation, speaking with us in detail about his farms and their coffees. This Sudan Rume, for example, totals just 6,500 trees and three hectares of land and has extremely limited production potential in terms of quantity. Drying the coffee in the cherry, first in a silo for 48 hours followed by a solar dryer for four weeks, extends the fruit contact time and aids in stabilizing the coffee’s flavor profile. The result is a fruity-tasting coffee with a lot of character and a unique opportunity to taste a rarely grown cultivar.
Sudan Rume (sometimes written “Rume Sudan”) is an ancient variety, originally hailing from what is now South Sudan’s Boma plateau. Not far from the border of Ethiopia, coffee still grows wild in the forest throughout the region. The variety is primarily cultivated as a source of genetic material for inclusion in hybrids (popular examples include Kenya’s SL-28 and Ruiru-11); the coffee’s productivity is very limited and as a result has generally not been grown commercially.
This coffee is dense and a bit on the dry side. Its longbean appearance makes the coffee appear fairly large, but in actuality the long, narrow shape slips through the screens into a fairly tight distribution on the smaller end of the spectrum.
This coffee dry and dense coffee surprised me at the end of my first roast by stalling a little just after first crack. In order to keep the momentum after first crack, I decided that I would need a little more heat and instead of turning the heat down to 2 gas, like I did in PR-437, I turned the heat down to 2.5 gas. The cupping table was split on preference. I enjoyed the fruitier, PR-437, with its citrus, raspberry, and tropical notes while others preferred PR-438 with its blackberry compote and black tea tannins.
The Sudan Rume is a unique coffee, one that fans of cherry-dried coffee will adore. We brewed Jen’s two roasts of this coffee on our trusty Bonavita brewers, and enjoyed PR-437 very thoroughly for its sweet and tart character. While very fruit forward, the aftertaste was all chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Though the preference was slightly toward PR-437 over PR-438 the latter had just as much fruit, but with a dry cinnamon and herbal tinge.
Overall, these brews tended to be less soluble than we imagined, so we would recommend using a finer grind setting. You can see below that our first set of brews used the ‘10’ setting on the EK43, and the second set used the ‘9’ setting in order to pull more from the coffee.
This tactic certainly pulled more from the Sudan Rume! Explosive cherry candy and floral notes emanated from both roasts after grinding a little bit finer. If you feel you aren’t getting enough out of this coffee, definitely check your grind setting.