Our incredible importing partners at Shared Source built this custom lot of Colombian coffee exclusively for us! Here’s what Michelle Stoler of Shared Source had to say about it this project:
When thinking about coffees to set aside for Taza Negra, we immediately thought of coffee from Tarqui: the profiles here are always very sweet, and often have notes of juicy red fruits and sweet citrus, and the landscape- steep hills, many microclimates and soil types, many small growers- allows us to choose from an array of profiles. In Tarqui, we’ve developed a strong relationship with an independent association of small growers called Aso-Tarqui. Member-funded and run, the group has cultivated a collaborative and solidarity-focused model to improve their processing and connect with buyers. The group was formed by Francy Elena Osorio Criollo, a young and talented woman who understands the power of a collective in improving coffee quality and access to buyers, and she’s truly dedicated to improving the lives of her community members.
While spectacular coffees initially drew us to the zone, we found a really great opportunity to work more deeply with growers to improve all-around quality, from soil to cup. We have funded a farmer-to-farmer training program in ecological and regenerative land stewardship, and in December, we brought in farmer experts from ASOPEP in Tolima, and coordinated a workshop that focused on post-harvest processing best-practices alongside training in organic agriculture trouble-shooting. Like in many rural areas, many members of the association are members of just a few families. A collaborative and familial spirit means that ideas spread quickly, and there’s a cooperative sense as family members guide each other through new processing regimes. Family members share tips as many of them lessen their dependence on synthetic chemical inputs, and organic farms with healthy and more resistant trees and nutrient-rich soils offer themselves as guides, showing both yield benefits, as well as the reduced on-farm costs.
To put together this coffee for Black Cup, we focused on purchasing coffees with obvious sweet notes and wanted to put together a blend with two of some of the sweetest varietals in Colombia- caturra, and variedad Colombia (we intentionally did not add any Castillo coffees to this lot, since Castillo coffees- though high-yielding- can have some rougher, more bitter notes). Both Francy and Andres contributed lots that had more pronounced stone fruit notes, and the lots from Jairo, Nilson, Hernan and Alexandro all give the coffee a full, round body and a strong chocolate-y base.
The other important part of the blend is to note the history and progress of each of these producers- we’ve been able to purchase from these producers for many harvests now, and this time were able to tell them that their lots went into a coffee that was being specially prepared for a customer who was interested in developing a long-term relationship. The producers know that their coffee was destined for Alaska, and since we were planning to offer Black Cup this coffee, we were able to pay producers above market rate prices for their coffees (and with reduced sales risk for us, we can still offer the coffee to you at a fairly reasonable price).