A Bolivian coffee showdown!
To celebrate a decade of purchasing coffee from Bolivia’s legendary Pedro Rodriquez, we’ve bundled two of his finest into this neat-tasting pack. But what makes these two so special? Let us tell you.
As we search for ways to make good coffee even better, the development of new varieties of coffee plants and innovative processing methods is at the forefront of specialty coffee production. These two lots are excellent examples of one producer incorporating modern advancements to strive for quality in two very different ways, and we think you’ll enjoy comparing them as much as we have.
Coffee production in Bolivia has dwindled in recent years due to the prevalence of higher-profit crops grown for the drug trade, and a lack of government funding. Pedro and his family’s organisation, Agricafe, have become pioneers in the revival and development of the Bolivian specialty coffee industry. As well as their own farms, Agricafe represents over 100 small producers in the region, providing them with training and resources to improve their farming and processing practices. His passion for agriculture and specialty coffee is apparent in these lots.
So, how do they taste?
The honey-processed Caturra has a silky mouthfeel, with a lingering oolong tea finish. It is delicately floral, with notes of white grape and vanilla, a seriously pretty coffee.
With red grape acidity up front, the natural processed Ethiosar is one of the cleanest naturals we’ve tasted. The perfumey, confectionary-like sweetness of this coffee reminds us of musk sticks and blueberries.
We’re roasting them both for filter, so they can be enjoyed at home using your favourite filter setup.
The Ethiosar variety from Nicaragua is relatively new, but has started to make its mark scoring well in auctions and production in recent years. It is a hybrid of Rume Sudan and Sarchimor, which is then crossed with Villa Sarchi. Rume Sudan and Sarchimor are hybrids themselves, and Villa sarchi a dwarf mutation from a cross between Arabica and Robusta species. Long story short, this coffee is very genetically diverse!
So why does this matter? As with any agricultural pursuit, coffee is not immune to disease. By diversifying the gene pool, we can create varieties that are resistant to certain diseases. Cross breeding also makes it possible to promote higher yields and improve flavour, and Ethiosar is an excellent example of all of this. With a 40% higher yield than some traditional varieties, resistance to leaf rust (one of the biggest destroyers of coffee crops today) and a vibrant flavour profile this is a real winner for the farmer and for us!
The second offering is a Caturra, a natural mutation of Bourbon. Originally from Brazil, it found its niche in Central America and once made up nearly half of all coffee production in Colombia. Even today, Caturra coffee is often used there as a benchmark when comparing new coffee varieties. Revered for its flavour potential and high yields, the short stature of the tree makes it easy to harvest. While it didn’t flourish under Brazil’s growing conditions, and can require a lot of care and fertilisation at high altitudes, Pedro’s hands-on approach allows this coffee to shine in Bolivia.
Perhaps the most exciting thing about these coffees are the meticulous methods involved in processing them. After hand picking only the ripest, almost purple cherries, Pedro has taken inspiration from the wine industry and incorporated a 96 hour fermentation in his new custom-built stainless steel tanks for the processing of the Ethiosar lot. Following this, the coffee was dried in his new drying chambers for 125 hours. Think giant ovens, these allow complete control of temperature and humidity, dehydrating at a steady, constant rate.
The Caturra has received as much care as the Ethiosar, being hand picked and sorted in water to remove any light weight cherries. The skin is then removed from the seeds, leaving some of the sweet fruit behind, before they are fermented overnight and dried on raised beds. The coffee is turned every hour for 10 days until it reaches 11.5% humidity.
Both coffees were then shipped to Pedro’s La Luna mill, where they were sorted through a total of seven stages, some by machine and some by hand, to remove stones, debris and any unripe, lighter or smaller seeds. A specialised laser colour sorting machine rejects any black, or sour, beans and those outside of a certain colour range. This machine is incredibly efficient and more common in larger coffee producing countries like Brazil, otherwise the work is done by hand or not at all.
Over to you!
Despite their differences, most importantly these two lots are an excellent example of Pedro’s continued dedication to the development of specialty coffee in Bolivia. A visionary in his field, his precise, scientific and sustainable approach to farming and processing has given us this unique opportunity to compare two wildly different but equally delicious coffees, and we hope you enjoy comparing them for yourself.