Kuichi means “rainbow” in the indigenous Quechua language and is the name that 22 Samaniego-based farmers participating in the Borderlands project created for their coffee to distinguish it from other groups in the region.
The Borderlands project—which was initiated by Catholic Relief Services (CRS)—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 Samaniego, from PERC Coffee in Savannah, Georgia. 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 Samaniego is a bright, fruity one. There are some hints of vanilla and graham cracker, but its tropical fruit and citrus scents are much more prominent.
This is a very tasty, flavorful cup of coffee (I’m not repeating myself, here—this coffee is packed with flavor and it is oh, so tasty). It’s on the lighter side of a medium-bodied coffee with a soft, supple mouthfeel, and it features an electric, acidity-forward flavor profile. There’s also plenty of sweetness to be found, with flavors of honey, muscovado sugar, vanilla, and graham cracker (which, coupled with the lime elements I’m tasting make for a key lime pie flavor). But bright, lively, tropical fruits are the main attraction in this cup with juicy plum, guava, lime, tart cherry, peach, white grape, and nectarine splashing over my tongue, leading to a clean, satisfying finish. A long, lingering aftertaste of citrus (lemon-lime) and florals is somewhat reminiscent of a clear liquor cocktail (I’m thinking vodka tonic or Seven and Seven) and only makes me want a second (and third, and fourth) cup.
This coffee was electric; very unsurprisingly so, given that Colombian coffees have been off the charts the past few years and PERC Coffee has been establishing themselves as major, major talents in the world of specialty coffee roasting. So, of course it came as no surprise to me that their Colombia Samaniego provided a memorable cupping experience.
It was really easy getting excited about this one. It was a bright, fruity, acid-forward coffee that dazzled my taste buds and sparkled on my palate.
*content provided by Counter Culture Coffee
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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.