I’ve always been a big fan of coffees from Palestina. Since the advent of Juan Valdez and the Colombian marketing machine in the 1980’s, most of Colombia’s coffee producers have replanted their farms with highly productive and hearty coffee varieties. They grow these varieties in high density, removing nearly all the shade from their farms, and they use agrochemicals more frequently. In contrast, the small region of Palestina, situated in the southern part of the department of Huila, still maintains some of the coffee varieties and shade trees that gave Colombia its original coffee fame.
The ”Colombia” variety is a very established variety developed by Cenicafe and heavily planted throughout Colombia in the 70s and 80s. This variety is hardier that the traditionally planted Typica and the cup character is a bit varied, depending on the specific strain of the variety. Juan’s Colombia tends to have panela sweetness and an undertone of tomato – a common attribute in Colombian coffees.
Caturra has been also planted in Colombia as the de-facto quality variety until Pink Bourbon came along a few years ago. Still, well harvested and processed Caturra in Colombia is synonymous with tasty coffees. Lots of sweetness, balanced fruit, great acidity.
One of the cool aspects of Juan’s production is his fermentation. Due to the cooler conditions in his farm, he needs to ferment 36-48 hours, and, in my experience, this almost always leads to better flavours in the cup. Juan is lucky to be married to Leydi, who is his amazing right hand at the farm. When I met Leydi, I could instantly tell she was in charge of all the details – she is meticulous. Leydi and Juan care deeply about doing things ‘right’, so things like cleanliness and hygiene and punctuality in processing are done at a very high level. This deep respect for attention to detail is rare!
This coffee showed a lots of sweetness, milky mouthfeel, balanced acidity, light tomato notes and subtle fruity flavours on the cupping table. I felt that it would make an awesome espresso.