Tasting Notes: Peach, Milk Tea, Huckleberry
Our first year buying Bolivian coffee – well, not really. Way back when I was in high school, starting out and roasting as a hobby on the rooftop of my parent’s place, one of the first coffees I experimented with was from Bolivia. I’m incredibly excited to bring coffee from this corner of the Andes back to our menu and to share the incredible stories behind them. Bolivia is going through kind of “coffee renaissance” being led by the Rodriguez family, founders of Agricafe. The coffee industry in Bolivia is young (about 60 years old), but in the early 2000s it was in a downward spiral. With rampant coffee leaf rust destroying crops, farmers were turning to coca production, which was more reliable to grow but much harsher on the land. As a result, coffee production was in a free fall. Pedro Rodriguez, who had been exporting coffee for many years, decided to tackle Bolivia’s coffee crisis head on. In 2012, Pedro decided he’d grow coffee himself and acquired land in Caranavi – his first farm, the legendary Finca La Linda. Working with both his kids Daniela and Pedro Pablo, Pedro has grown Agricafe into a bellwether, cultivating, processing and exporting some of the best coffees in the world. They’ve since added 11 more farms and 3 coffee mills where they pioneer new processing methods, plant rare varieties, and refine their regenerative farming practices. Beyond their family farms, the Rodriguez’s have been sharing their expertise to their neighbours through their “Sol de La Mañana” program. Structured like a “coffee university”, producers enrolled are guided through best practices and given the tools to build resilient, thriving farms over the course of a 7-year program. Their first “class” is currently in year 6, and participants have seen a 200% increase in production and a dramatic increase in quality. In recognition of their work re-building Bolivia’s specialty coffee sector, Agricafe won the 2019 SCA Sustainability Award.
This lot is from the Rodriguez’s farm Finca Kusillo. Java is an ancient variety, originally from Ethiopia, and I roasted it to highlight its creamy florality (reminding me of milk tea) and the tartness reminiscent of huckleberries (the Rocky Mountain blueberry) and fresh peach. One of the most unique lots I’ve tasted, I’m humbled to roast coffee from this family fiercely determined to the sustainability and longevity of Bolivia’s coffee industry.