Bolivian coffee is truly a hidden gem of specialty coffee. I was very surprised at the quality of coffee being produced, in these small farms high in the Andes Mountains. Growing conditions reach as high as 2500 meters above sea level. Almost every farm is organic; however, not all are certified. Typically these farms also grow other crops amongst their coffee trees such as orange, banana, and other tropical fruits. Walking through these farms gives you a lot of history as many have been handed down for many generations. Their farms and processes methods are very small as most farms are never more than 10 hectares. The growing conditions and processing methods are very typical of what would be found in Africa. You will find a lot of naturals, and semi-washed coffee on these farms.
Visiting with Don Cervando Montano and his wife Dona Alejandra Ramos at their 80 year old coffee farm Fina "Don Cervando" I got to see first hand the same processing techniques that Don's dad taught him when he was a boy.
While visiting their farm, Don would sort through his coffee bean drying on the raised beds picking out beans that weren’t perfect. At the same time, Dona was roasting coffee over her fire and then brewed me a sample. What a great coffee. Don and Dona are now in the process of passing their skills to their 10 children.
This farm finished 5th place in the COE competition this year, and their children finished 10th. Due to the growing conditions, altitude and processing techniques you will find flavor characteristics that are intensely sweet and clean, with a vibrant acidity. This entire trip you would hear coffee descriptions that would include spicy, chocolate, creamy body, mango and black berry, and beside that cup would be a bright and fruity coffee giving you notes of orange, grapefruit, lemon and stewed plums.
I can not wait to bring these coffees back to Calgary and get everyone else’s opinions on this wonderful region hidden high in the Andes, deep in the Yungas region.