Fermin Rada Rodríguez is growing coffee on just three hectares of land in Tolima. 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 Fermin’s farm 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 Fermin and farmers like him, with the help of people like those at Granja La Esperanza, are breaking through and producing exceptional coffees.
Bold red fruits and an exuberance of sugars are the hallmarks of this coffee. It has a tendency to skew a little malic and herbal at lighter roast levels, but even that couldn’t diminish its candy and jam-like sweetness.
Fermin’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 about 80% screens 15 and 16, making it a little smaller than average but also with relatively little variation in size, which should help improve consistency during roasting. The coffee is also quite dense, and has a slightly higher than average water activity reading despite a moisture content just a shade under 12%.
Two nearly identical roasts with just 2.9 °F difference. Some could say that there was an acceptable difference in the two roasts and to be completely honest they would be correct. Both roasts shared very similar flavor profiles on the cupping table: a caramel sweetness, cherry juice, and citrus highnote. PR-443 had a more pronounced floral bouquet with rose and a hint of fresh moss. What PR-444 lacked in aromatics, it gained in a heftier mouthfeel and cooked fruits like a cherry cobbler.
Brewing this coffee was a pleasure. The bright and sparkling acids in this coffee made it a pleasure to drink as well. PR-443 came in perhaps a bit too intense, but I can guarantee that some people would simply love this profile. Green apple, lime, and a touch of ethereal herbals (something like eucalyptus or fenugreek, but not quite..) made this coffee interesting sip after sip.
PR-444 was the clear favorite, however. The acids in this roast came across as delicate and sparkling, and sugars were browned to a very pleasing degree. Juiciness like a Fuji apple (rather than a Granny Smith) and limeade made this roast simultaneously refreshing and interesting. This is a roast that will bring the drinker back for sip after sip.