Hamilton Guaraca Díaz is growing coffee on just two hectares of land in Tolima on his farm called La Argentina. His coffee comes to us through a partnership with Granja La Esperanza, who provides technical support and export services to local farms in the Tolima and Risaralda departments of Colombia.
Planadas, the municipality in which La Argentina is located, is the southernmost community in Tolima, and shares borders with three other well-known Andean coffee growing regions in Colombia: Cauca, Valle del Cauca, and Huila. The microregion has been plagued by violence and coca leaf production, but Hamilton and farmers like him, with the help of people like those at Granja La Esperanza, are breaking through and producing exceptional coffees.
Bright and caramelly, the coffee was a sweet delight on the cupping table but had the versatility to thrill as espresso as well – a classic, crowd-pleaser of a Colombia if ever there was one.
Hamilton’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.
The lot is mostly size 16 and up, quite dense, and has a slightly higher than average water activity reading despite a moisture content just a shade under 12%.
Above you will find two nearly identical curves of this coffee. With my second roast, PR-442, I decided to extend the roast time by only 16 seconds and my end temperature was 4.1 °F higher. This extra development time in the roaster shook off some of the savory notes that we detected in PR-441 as well as created a nice sweet plum and peach acidity. I suggest roasting this coffee a touch further than you are accustomed to in order to pull out all of the flavor this coffee has to offer.
This sweet coffee has plenty to offer in the cup. First and foremost, we loved the straightforward sugary character of this coffee. This was expressed differently in the two roasts, PR-441 being more of a raw sugar sweetness and PR-442 bringing intense agave nectar sugars and dried berry flavors. Overall, Richard and I preferred the former for its classic lime and cherry tartness, and well developed sugars. Both of these roasts were winners, but PR-441 won our hearts with its classic flavor profile.
It’s worth noting, however, that while the extraction percentage was higher on PR-441, PR-442 had an extraction of 19.78%. That’s right, 1978; the year Royal Coffee, Inc. was founded. What a nice coincidence! Luckily that didn’t influence our tasting notes. Things may have turned out differently…
We decided to try this coffee as an espresso as well. While I had very little coffee to work with, we found a favorite shot in my third extraction, which happened to be from PR-442. Perhaps our favorite shot out of the four selected, it offered a jasmine floral hit, syrupy texture, and a nice black cherry deepness that kept on giving.
While PR-441 did quite well as a drip coffee, it did not perform as well as an espresso. Some people would love the bright sweetness of this roast for espresso, but for those with a more classic bent PR-441 might be a bit intense. If you love longer shots and a third wave espresso, however, this would work perfectly for you.