"geisha" don Eduardo - COLOMBIACAFE CAPITALE
Hacienda San Alberto
Juan Pablo Villota
BLACK TEA, PEACH, FLORAL, RASPBERRY, SMOOTH, MEDIUM BODY COMPLEX, LIVELY ACID
The much-loved Hacienda San Alberto coffees return to Antwerp again! Thanks to the continued support of you roasters, we managed to buy almost the entire production of Hacienda San Alberto this year. Most of the lots from last year feature in our selection again, as well as a better than ever, mouthwatering, exclusive nanolot. Brace yourself for an out of the ordinary coffee: the Don Eduardo Geisha! It is the most expensive coffee we have ever featured in the history of 32cup, but it is sure worth it! Here’s why.
Don Eduardo – San Alberto Geisha
The San Alberto Geisha project started in the first half of 2013. The Hacienda’s manager and Juan Pablo wanted to have more genetic diversity on the farm, so they met with Cenicafé, Colombia’s coffee research center, to start a test project. Hacienda San Alberto has a small plot dedicated to varietal experiments, to test how seeds and plants from other varieties behave in their own specific terroir. Next to Geisha, they have 12 more varieties under study. The result to an initial series of tests was positive. The first lot of Geisha at Hacienda San Alberto was planted soon after, in August. The identity of the lot was kept secret from the farm workers and visitors by referring to the experiment as “Code Z”.
2016 marked the first full harvest of the Hacienda San Alberto Geisha lot. We managed to buy a small volume of the very promising project. There was still some room for improvement, but the foundations for deliciousness where already there. A small mitaca crop followed at the end of the year, which won the award of Colombia’s most exotic coffee in the national Land of Diversity contest. Now, for the second year in a row, the team of Hacienda San Alberto is proud to share their hard work with the world and with 32cup. Juan Pablo named the coffee after his father, Don Eduardo, in honour of his eagerness to experiment and innovate.
The cup results proved impressive, the variety’s resistance to coffee rust was a relief. One of the challenges will be Geisha’s low yield per hectare, partly due to the size of the tree. Those challenges explain in large part why Geisha coffee is always so much more expensive than other coffees. Sure, the name and fame of the variety, as well as the beautiful cup profile, contribute to the higher prices, but it is important to understand what it takes to actually produce this coffee. It needs a lot of input for a low production. Add to that the costs and risks of launching a new variety with unsure results. To compensate those costs, a producer will have to sell his Geisha much higher than the usual prices for high specialty coffees.
To make sure these precious beans are handled correctly, all of the San Alberto microlots are processed in a special, dedicated dry mill. This mill is equipped for handling smaller volumesThen the coffee is packed in boxes of 24kg in total, with two 12kg vacuum bags inside. If you add up all the local logistics costs, the special transport and all other extra care to preserve that mouthwateringly delicious cup profile, you easily end up with a price that is much higher than our usual coffees. Is it worth it? We are convinced so!
Quite some experiments with Geisha varieties pass through our cupping room, but we always found the prices absurdly high for not so exceptional flavour profiles. Hacienda San Alberto proved and convinced us that Geisha in Colombian terroir, with proper processing and drying, can produce deliciously delicate and unique floral flavour profiles as well.
The coffee’s elegant body and delicate yet intense floral profile, vibrant all through the finish convinced us to bring a small quantity to Antwerp. This coffee may be challenging to roast correctly, but we know this coffee has what it takes to hit the 91 mark after cupping it on various locations.
Hacienda San Alberto
San Alberto is a coffee farm you can easily write entire pages about. First, location facts: the farmlands are located in Buenavista in Quindío, the smallest city in Colombia’s smallest department. The soil is predominantly volcanic and the area has a stable temperature between 18 and 23°C year-round. The farm’s main crop (about 70-80% of the total harvest) is produced in April, mitaca falls around September – October.
When you visit the farm, you understand where the small town got its name from. Standing amidst the coffee trees you overlook the departments of Quindío and Valle del Cauca, while seeing the western ridge of the Andes mountain range in the distance. Sunsets on the farm’s coffee bar terrace are really priceless, especially when thunderstorms light up the sky far away.
Juan Pablo’s grandparents, Gustavo and Melba, acquired the first part of the farm in 1972. When they acquired the farm it was called La Alsacia, but they renamed it San Alberto in honour of their son who died shortly before that. In 1996, Juan Pablo’s parents, Eduardo and Olga, took over the business. Eduardo Villota used to run a rice producing company and worked a lot with plant genetics and crop optimization. With his knowledge, he started the first transformation phase of the farm towards high-quality coffee production.
Ten years later, Juan Pablo and his brother Gustavo came into play. They decided to take part in the Villota’s coffee legacy and steer Hacienda San Alberto to the model, specialty coffee producing farm it is now. They implemented practices they learned in France’s wine production sector to reach an even higher “standard”. The team deliberately chose a path of quality, technification and strong control over production. Hacienda San Alberto also obtained UTZ certification as a guideline for good administrative and agricultural practices. Along the way, two lots were added to San Alberto: the higher altitude La Ponderosa (1700-1800m) and the lower altitude El Paraíso (1500-1600m).
Nowadays, the farm itself is a picture perfect example of what specialty coffee in Colombia could look like, with the right knowledge and dedication of the producer. The team consists of two units: on one side, the agronomist José Jaír and his team of field managers and pickers; and the quality control team headed by Juan Pablo himself on the other. José Jaír oversees the entire production and selection steps until the dried parchment coffee rests in the farm’s small bodega in grainpro bags. Next, a sample of each bag goes to the farm’s lab for evaluation where they decide over the final destination of each lot.