Last November, Andrew Miller, longtime green coffee buyer for Cafe Imports, was in Huila, Colombia doing a blind cupping when one of the cups screamed off the table as something incredibly complex & unique. He scored the coffee at 90 points, but it was so different from other Colombian coffees that he could hardly describe, let alone identify what it was he was drinking.
Tasting notes like "Hibiscus, Rose Hips. Mandarin. Guava. Rich papaya juice. Caramel. Milky. Long lingering, heavy mouthfeel" were just some of what he and others were experiencing. When he finally asked the producer if he knew what variety of coffee it was, the farmer responded by saying that he was not sure. And so, the investigation began.
Upon looking at the plants on the farm, they initially concluded it appeared to be a possible mutation of a Colombia Variety known as F6 (which is a hybrid of a Caturra (dwarf Bourbon) & a Timor Hybrid. While they were not 100% sure, it looked like this could be the discovery of a brand new variety, and so Cafe Imports purchased and sold the coffee under the name "Variety Unknown."
This is the first year this coffee has been harvested and sold separately, and we are one of very few roasters to have our hands on it! So, as DNA testing is done on these plants, stay tuned for the dramatic (or possibly anticlimactic, but most likely still delicious) conclusion of the gripping noir Cafe Imports is calling Variety: Unknown…
In the Cup
Expect a coffee with flavors of Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Mandarin, Guava, Rich Papaya Juice and Caramel, with a Milky, Long-lingering, heavy mouthfeel.
The Rest of the Story
Since we purchased this coffee, its true identity has been unmasked! As it turns out, it is just an incredibly delicious and unique Colombia Variety Hybrid F6 - developed between 1968-1988 in Colombia. While the variety is now quite common in Colombia, the flavor of this coffee defies what the F6 variety typically manifests, which leads us to the work of the individual farmer and the terroir.
Despite being a little bummed out that this was not the discovery of the next Gesha variety, we are all excited to celebrate the excellent work of Helver Cordoba.
Meet the Farmer (from the Cafe Imports Blog)
“We know the farmer of this coffee: His name is Helver Cordoba and his farm is called Finca Sofia. It’s at 1730 meters, near a town called Salado Blanco in Huila,” Andrew continues. “It’s cold up there, and they don’t have rust, but he says the coffee does well and bears large fruit in the cool climate. He learned to process coffee from his father, and he has a small home that he shares with his wife, a school teacher.”
Andrew says that Elver used to sell his coffee on the local market, not even dreaming of specialty. At the time of this writing, that would be $1.20 per pound, but thanks to his partnership with Banexport and our relationship with them, he is able to earn what this quality is worth.
“He said he never imagined that he could get over $5.00 for some of his coffee, and it has been a blessing to know people that value the work that he does,” Andrew says. “It seems that we are back to the same truths about quality coffee that variety matters but terroir matters as much, and processing might be slightly more important as an effort to preserve and highlight inherent quality in well-done coffee.
“Most important though is the human interaction and support of small producers and the success available when we can find top quality coffee that we want, and producers can get a living wage for the work that they do,” Andrew says. And hopefully that’s something we can all truly know, first-hand, and without a doubt.