About This Coffee
This single-variety lot comes from 14 producers located in the La Argentina, Palestina, Timaná, and Ororapa municipalities in Huila.
The Java variety has a long and storied history of cultivation. It had originally been thought to be a Typica selection, but in reality the variety was introduced to the island of Java directly from Ethiopia by the Dutch in the early 19th century; it was a selection from an Ethiopian landrace population called Abyssinia (the name of Ethiopia at the time). In the mid-20th century, it was then brought to Cameroon by a local farmer via the Vilmorin company, which acquired the seeds in Java from Porteres (a famous breeder). In Cameroon, the breeder Pierre Bouharmont observed that it was partially tolerant to coffee berry disease (CBD), a prevalent problem for coffee growers in Africa, and well adapted for smallholder growers using few inputs. After nearly 20 years of selection, it was released for cultivation in Cameroon in 1980-90. It was then introduced to Costa Rica in 1991 by the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) by breeder Benoit Bertrand. The objective was to provide options for smallholders using low inputs, as well as for CBD tolerance. CBD is not currently present in Central America, but there is concern it may move to the region. Still, as CBD was not yet an issue, farmers were reluctant to plant it. It then made its way to Panama where it was planted at high altitudes and flourished, and soon earned a reputation for its high cup quality. Subsequently the first Central American country to officially recognize 'Java' was Panama in 2016 and it has spread elsewhere in Central and South America since then. It represents an interesting alternative to the Geisha variety (which can also be traced back to Ethiopia with a long and storied route), as it too has a reputation for growing well at high altitudes and high cup quality - but Java is more resilient for small farmers with better tolerance of coffee leaf rust and CBD.
The double fermentation process involves an intital fermentation in cherry, followed by traditional pulping and a second, usually longer period of fermentation in tanks before the coffee is then sun-dried on patios or parabolic driers.
History of Colombian Coffee
As with many coffee origins, it is believed that coffee was first brought to Colombia by priests, arriving, perhaps, within a decade or two after coffee first came to the Americas via the Caribbean in the first half of the 17th century. It was likely a garden crop grown for local consumption and barter for decades. Unlike other coffee regions, we have the story of a priest named Francisco Romero, who could be called the father of commercial coffee cultivation in Colombia. The folkloric tale goes that in the early 1800s, Father Francisco, hearing confessions in the northeastern town of Salazar de la Palmas, assigned planting coffee to his parishioners as penance for their sins. The Archbishop of Colombia heard about this and ordered all priests to adopt the practice. Commercial production of coffee expanded quickly, moving into regions where the growing conditions were ideal.
Growing Coffee in Colombia
Even though it’s been 4,000 years, the soil resulting from the last major eruption of Tolima is still considered “young soil,” filled with nutrients that are no longer found at the same levels in old soil. There is a long list of elements on offer in volcanic soil that are fading or absent in other soils, such as high levels of potassium and nitrogen. Also present is something called “Boron,” which arrived from outer space a long time ago, and is important to cell walls, the creation of enzymes, and the production of flowers and fruit, meaning Boron contributes to yield. Beyond the nutrients, the structure of volcanic soil is also beneficial to coffee growing. It can soak up and hold moisture while, at the same time, facilitating good drainage so water doesn’t pool, which is not good for coffee plant roots. Coffee plants like to take a drink, then take a break. Also, volcanic soils are usually found on an incline, which also helps with drainage.
Farm: smallholder farmers
Elevation: 1600-2000 MASL
Processing: Washed, double fermentation
Tasting notes: Medium bodied, sweet, and tart with flavors of honey, grape juice, cherry, and mulberry.