This week we are excited to be showcasing our brand new espresso roast of Villarazo, a natural processed Colombian micro-lot. Grown by Jairo & Felipe Arcila at Finca Villarazo, this coffee was hand-picked in order to use only the ripest cherries. From there, it was exposed to 18 hours of dry anaerobic fermentation, before being dried on raised beds.
The flavour profile of Villarazo, Colombia is not what most would expect from a single of this region. It drinks like a boozy fruit bomb with big tropical fruits up front and a long rum, raisin and chocolate finish. This coffee is a sign of the direction that specialty micro-lots from Colombia are heading in. Until 2015, the Colombian government had placed strict sanctions on what kind of coffee could be grown and processed. The emphasis was on producing vast quantities of “Colombian style” coffee and thus natural processing was entirely prohibited. With Colombia’s neighbours Costa Rica and Panama fast gaining notoriety for their premium natural lots, and with many producers in Colombia beginning to experiment with processing, the government lifted the sanctions and opened a new window for producers into the world of specialty coffee.
Carlos explained his and Felipe’s inspiration for moving towards natural processing and away from traditional Colombian-style coffee:
“Felipe and I lived in Australia for a number of years and had some amazing natural coffees from Costa Rica, Panama and Ethiopia. Federacion Nacional de Cafeteros had lifted the ban on natural processed coffees in 2015, so when Felipe returned to Colombia in 2016, he immediately started experimenting with natural processed coffees because he had already seen it as a point of difference of coffees in Australia. No one was doing it in Colombia yet. Batches were done 100-200kg at a time, and for the first 6 months, nothing was decent or replicable. After a lot of trial and error, and A LOT of wasted coffee, six months in there were finally some replicable results. We now have two different profiles for creating a natural processed coffee, that we also teach during our internship program for other Colombian producers.”
Finca Villarazo is one of a few trail-blazing farms that has introduced and refined new processing methods and varietals and is now producing exceptional micro-lots such as this. It is a big risk for producers to experiment with natural processing as an entire micro-lot can be ruined if it is not sorted and dried correctly. To achieve a clean and distinctive natural process, cherries must be picked to a strict level of ripeness and then dried with the right levels of exposure to direct sunlight. Felipe Arcila and his team at Villarazo were particularly proud of this lot remarking that “it is very rare to come across a natural processed Colombian with such cleanness and defined flavours.”