This is the third and final cup we’ll be sipping from Tacoma-based Bluebeard Coffee Roasters for a while. Before we delve into today’s cup, I want to express my many thanks to the fine folks at Bluebeard—you guys treat me too well.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this café. Today, we are sipping a cup of Colombia La Cabana from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters in Tacoma, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
Luis Alejandro Ortega has been farming coffee for twenty years. His farm, La Cabana, was founded by his father thirty-seven years ago by planting exclusively Caturra on four hectares.
You have to admire his perfectionist streak, a second-generation coffee grower in Colombia’s San Agustin. Rather than accept the status quo, Ortega is constantly working to improve his harvest. He grows only the Caturra variety in his farm and experiments with other cultivars (today’s cup, for example, is an organic Typica), pays his workers a higher-than-average wage, and invests in equipment—like the raised drying beds that finished this wet-processed and fermented lot.
The plants here thrive. Their success is due to pruning, intercropping, incredibly rich soil, and a clever terracing system—all of which both father and son have paid close attention to.
Always ready to experiment in the search for a better coffee, Ortega built a new wet mill last year, which greatly improved the clarity of his coffees. He also increased the frequency of his pickings to every eight days during harvest. In fact, he’s paying his pickers 50% over expected wages in return for his demand that only perfectly ripe cherry be picked.
This year, Ortega built an entirely new multi-level parabolic dryer that dries coffee in partial shade—an innovation that, along with even longer fermentation times, has greatly increased La Cabana’s clarity, sweetness, and mouthfeel.
origin: San Agustin, Huila, Colombia
farm: La Cabana
elevation: 1725-1750 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Colombia La Cabana is a really pleasant mix of brown sugar, cinnamon, honey, and graham crackers. Fluttering in over the top comes aromatics of rose hips and orange peel. It’s sweet, but understated. It doesn’t grab my attention, but it certainly holds it.
Up front, brown sugar tickles the tip of the tongue, while a gentle stream of sweet caramel coats the sides of it. After a while, honey begins to coat the entire palate and graham cracker sweetness fills the sides of the cheeks. As the cup approaches room temperature, it gets remarkably juicy and fruity. Big citrus notes come flooding out of the cup—nectarine, pomegranate, massively juicy blood orange, and bright pineapple acidity. Behind these citrus flavors, other fruity flavors come bubbling up; like cherry, black cherry, grape, and marionberry.
Medium body; juicy mouthfeel; pineapple acidity; clean finish.
the bottom line:
Dear Readers—I have some bad news. The Colombia La Cabana, from Bluebeard Coffee Roasters, is gone for the rest of the year. I’m just as disappointed as, I’m sure, you are. Don’t be discouraged, though—with as good as this lot turned out, I’m sure Bluebeard will be carrying something from La Cabana again next year.
I’ll be honest—I had a hard time with this coffee. The first week or so, every brew turned out differently. Sometimes, it wasn’t that great; sometimes it was right around average. I’m chalking that up to my bad. The last two or three cups I made turned out really nice. The cups started out pretty sweet, but mild; but then, would liven up towards the end. It was bright and lively and zesty and very, very clean.
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Andrew is a husband, father, dog lover, craft beverage enthusiast, content creator, and niche market Internet celebrity. Formerly of A Table in the Corner of the Cafe and The Pulitzer Project and contributor to Barista Magazine and Mental Floss, he’s been writing on the Internet for years.