Region of Tolima
Tolima is located in central Colombia, just West of Bogotá. The region’s name is derived from an indigenous language and means “river of snow or cloud;” a fitting title given the extremely high levels of humidity throughout the area.
Nestled in the middle of three mountain ranges running from North to South across Colombia, Tolima provides a plethora of distinct microclimates that is ideal for coffee production. Due to region’s length and varying altitudes, it offers considerably different growing conditions, and thus coffee professionals often separate it into Northern and Southern Tolima.
Harvest in Southern Tolima runs from March until June, while main harvest in Northern Tolima (where this lot if from) is performed much later in the year, typically September through December.
El Vergel Estates are located in Fresno, Colombia, a small town in the northern tip of Tolima. The farm(s) are managed by the Bayter brothers and their mother Marta, who have been at the helm since 1995. Over the last 15 years El Vergel Estates have seen tremendous growth, and are now one of the largest producers in the region employing over 100 people.
This lot is a mix of Red and Yellow Caturra, which are some of the oldest varieties at El Vergel Estates. The staff at the farm have worked with these trees for many years and have maximized the potential of what these varieties have to offer. They have nicknamed this coffee “Guava Banana” due to the abundance of native fruit trees across the region, and the impact that the biodiversity has on the unique flavor profile of this coffee.
Anaerobic Natural Process
This is naturally processed lot that experiences two phases of fermentation. After harvest, coffee cherries are placed into shallow open-air containers and allowed to ferment aerobically (with oxygen) for approximately 14 hours. These containers are very wide, leaving as many cherries exposed to the environment as possible.
The initial oxidation/fermentation phase accelerates the breakdown of the coffee’s fruit material, due to the relatively high ambient temperature. The second phase of fermentation is done anaerobically (without oxygen) to slow down the rate of fermentation, with the goal of imparting more delicate and nuanced fruit flavors, as opposed to the striking fruitfulness that natural coffees are often known for.
After fermentation is complete, the coffee is dried for a period of 12 to 15 days. The staff at El Vergel Estates implement an “intermittent” drying technique that involves moving each lot back and forth between raised bed and large silos. They then "stabilize” the coffee for a period of one and half months in a humidity controlled vault located on site.
Brewing El Vergel
Careful and controlled processing, along with favorable growing conditions, have led to a delightful coffee that is vibrantly fruitful, strikingly sweet, and highly approachable.
Pour over preparation offers a balanced cup that pairs lively fruit notes with rich chocolate qualities. The initial flavor and acidity of cherry quickly subsides to present the distinct tropical sweetness of guava; as the cup cools a familiar cocoa note becomes more prominent.
AeroPress brewing will yield a similar cup, albeit it one that trades flavor clarity for a more dense mouthfeel. Expect the same lush fruit notes to once again meet the flavor of cocoa.