Producer: Various Smallholders
Origin: Argelia, Cauca
Varietal: Typica, Caturra, Castillo & Colombia
Altitude: 1700-2000 metres above sea level
Process: Sugar Cane Decaf
Flavours: Papaya, rhubarb, fig, dark chocolate.
Cup Score: 85
Importer: Falcon Coffee
Where is it from?
This coffee comes from the municipality of Argelia which is situated in the southwest of the department of Cauca. Cauca is the 4th largest producer of speciality coffee in Colombia with around 90,000 smallholder farmers all producing coffee on approximately 1ha of land. Often these farmers are part of small associations who have very limited access to the market as well as limited resources to find channels to sell their coffees at the premiums they could achieve.
The Argelia municipality is located in an area that has been plagued by civil unrest and the illegal drug trade for many years. This is still a pertinent problem for the families living here and many of them are looking to make a living through legal channels where they can support their families and communities.
Siruma Coffee, a small speciality female-led exporter have launched a project that started in 2020 in Argelia for an initial 15 months period until early 2022. The funding has come from USAID to support 5 small Associations incorporating about 220 families who grow coffee for their livelihood. Siruma has been providing technical assistance on the ground with their agronomist helping provide educational sessions on pre and post-harvest techniques for the families that wish to join. Baseline data was established from the producers who each annually produce approximately 17 bags of green exportable coffee. The producers are also being trained in sensory analysis of the coffees and how their own coffees taste and the impact of processing on quality. Siruma is also helping to provide commercial speciality channels for the coffees through the partnership with Falcon Coffees who are buying all the coffee sourced from this project.
The farmers from these associations all have small 1-ha farms and have a mix of varieties including Typica, Tabi, Caturra, Castillo and Colombia. As well as producing coffee they also produce small amounts of food for consumption including bananas, avocados and oranges. Some of which they can sell to also generate extra income. In the harvest, they will pick the ripe cherry with their family and will do this every week as the coffee ripens at varying stages even on such small plots. Once picked they then wash and float the cherry before then pulping the coffee and leaving it to ferment overnight for 12 - 18 hours.
After this, the wet parchment is floated and immatures removed before being dried for 8 - 14 days in parabolic tents or on covered roof patios.
The coffee is then taken to the association where it is stored and the producers receive the initial payment for their coffee. The coffee is then assessed by the Siruma team and all coffees purchased that meet the physical quality specifications required.
Initially in the first phase of the project in total, there have been 165 producers who have attended training and from this in total 92 of these have delivered coffees to Siruma. All of these 92 producers have received on average 9.5% more than the local market rate for their coffees.
The Sugar Cane Decaf Process
The coffee first undergoes steaming at low pressures to remove the silver skins before then being moistened with hot water to allow the beans to swell and soften. This then prepares the coffee for the hydrolysis of caffeine, which is attached to the salts of the chlorogenic acid within the coffee.
The extractors (naturally obtained from the fermentation of sugar cane and not from chemical synthesis) are then filled with moistened coffee which is washed several times with the natural ethyl acetate solvent, to reduce the caffeine down to the correct levels. Once this process is finished the coffee then must be cleaned of the remaining ethyl acetate by using a flow of low-pressured saturated steam, before moving on to the final steps. From here the coffee is sent to vacuum drying drums where the water previously used to moisten the beans is removed and the coffee dried to between 10-12%.
The coffee is then cooled quickly to ambient temperature using fans before the final step of carnauba wax is applied to polish and provide the coffee with protection against environmental conditions and to help provide stability. From here, the coffee is packed into 35kg bags ready for export.
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