RATNAGARI - India
May - June 2020
Berry, Vanilla, Malt, Spicy, Red Fruits
Located in the town of Pitalito in Huila, Colombia, El Mirador is a 32-hectare farm with 30 hectares of coffee. The farm includes a broad collection of varieties like Catiope, Mokka, Tabi, and Gesha, as well as three different Bourbon strains including Orange, Striped, and Pink Bourbon. Caturra is a core variety for the farm as well, making it a staple for volume lots.
Recognised by coffee authorities as Sasa Sestic -Worlwide Barista Champion 2015-, Maxwell Colonna -UK Barista Champion and three times world finalist- and others, as one of the most pioneering and exceptional coffee farmers in the world, Elkin Guzman is what we can call a coffee farmer geek. I had the opportunity to visit him last January -precovid season, as part of my yearly trip to select rare and outstanding coffees for our roastery in coffee producers countries - and I was witness of his exceptional passion and deep knowledge in incredible techniques to process coffees according to each profile (wow, experiences of this visit will be released soon in a special blog post).
His family has always been involved in coffee cultivation, trading, or retail. Collectively, his family has celebrated over 70 years in coffee now, with 12 years of research devoted to post-harvest processing techniques. All of this research and experience has brought Elkin to utilize multiple processing techniques depending on the individual lot of coffee, including Coffee Maceration, Lactic and Acetic Natural processes, and Natural Hydro Honey. Harvest and post-harvest procedures are highly standardized for consistency and quality. First, the sugar content of the coffee cherries is measured in degrees Brix, followed by density and volumetric separation. Finally, the decision is made on which processing method is best suited to bring each lot to its fullest potential. The processing methods used by Elkin embody his pioneering spirit, combining different approaches to fermentation and drying techniques to complement each coffee's inherent characteristics.
In the case of this lot of Striped Bourbon coffee, the team at El Mirador chose Natural processing. Striped Bourbon is a natural mutation of the common Bourbon variety. Elkin came across this variety during a visit to a producer in San Adolfo and was surprised by the coffee’s flavor and characteristics in the cup. After learning more about the plant he decided to grow it at El Mirador in order to share with the world a coffee that he found to be incredible. The Natural process at El Mirador starts immediately after harvest. The coffee is first sorted by floating the cherries in water to remove defects, which is followed by hand sorting to remove dark and overripe fruit. Then the coffee is moved to the drying area, where it will then dry whole for 25–32 days. During this fermentation and drying period the coffee is kept in thin layers and moved consistently to ensure consistent drying throughout. After milling, the coffee is packed into GrainPro bags to maintain its humidity and to preserve the sensory attributes of the beans.
Region Description: The Colombian Department of Huila is located in the southern portion of the country where the Central and Eastern ranges of the Andes mountains converge. Huila’s capital city of Neiva is dry, flat, and desert-like, markedly different from the coffee regions further south.
Centered around the town of Pitalito, Huila’s coffee farms are predominantly smallholder owned, and over the past ten years have made concerted efforts to produce specialty coffee that reveals the full character of the region’s terroir. Selective manual harvesting, attentive processing, and careful post-harvest sorting all contribute to increasing recognition of the region.