Kuichi means “rainbow” in the indigenous Quechua language and is the name these 22 farmers participating in the Borderlands project in Samaniego created for their coffee to distinguish it from other groups in the region.
This coffee reflects a unique purchasing model for Counter Culture Coffee. Counter Culture was first introduced to farmers in Nariño three years ago through the Borderlands project, which was initiated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The Borderlands Project works with growers all around the region of Nariño, Colombia. The project has helped develop and separate unique coffees from specific communities and single growers—lots that historically would have been blended commercially and received little to no premium. Before this project, most farmers there had never even met a coffee buyer or had any insight into the quality of the coffee they produce. Through this project, producers have united to sell their coffees to roasters and importers, creating a new business model of quality-differentiated coffee previously unseen in Nariño.
Involvement in the Borderlands project and direct engagement with buyers has incentivized and inspired producers to focus more intently on farming practices, quality coffee production, and on their communities. People warned Borderlands that they were crazy to attempt to unite people from Nariño—a region known for individualism. Yet, these farmers not only united together to bring their coffee to market, they also organized community groups to save money to provide emergency funds to members in need. Their organization has strengthened local community bonds and increased collaboration on farming techniques and quality practices. The members of the Borderlands group have emerged as leaders in the coffee sector, from producing and distributing natural fertilizers, to running the bodegas—or warehouses—where coffees are graded and purchased.*
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Colombia Kuichi, from Counter Culture Coffee in Durham, North Carolina. Feel free to pull up a chair.
origin: Samaniego, Nariño, Colombia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: The Borderlands Project
elevation: 1700 – 1800 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Castillo, Colombia
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma of the Colombia Kuichi is oh so sweet. Very fragrant and pleasant to the nose. It’s so fruity and sugary, bursting with scents of red fruits (apple and cherry), caramel, brown sugar, and toffee.
The flavor follows the nose, much to my delight. This is a very tasty, flavorful cup of coffee. It has a medium body and possesses something of a lightly creamy mouthfeel. Subtly sweet flavors of dulce de leche and nougat, accompanied by cane sugar and graham cracker, coats my tongue and my taste buds are flooded by a rush of juicy honeycrisp apple, Bing cherry, raisin, pomegranate, blackberry, and a mellow clementine acidity.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citric acidity; clean finish.
It’s been way too long since the last time Counter Culture Coffee made an appearance at the Table and that’s something I had been meaning to rectify for a while. I was hearing good things about their Colombia Kuichi, so I decided it was just as good as any to revisit Counter Culture and tracked the coffee down. After just one sip, I have to say, it provided a welcomed return.
Its mildness, though—its accessibility and approachability—made it a supremely drinkable coffee. Every time I had a cup sitting in front of me, it was empty before I even realized it.
*content provided by Counter Culture Coffee