In 1995 Unesco declared the Tierradentro Reserve to be a world heritage site—a center of historical and cultural heritage—citing mainly the necropolis of pre-hispanic Colombia or the Hippogeos of Tierradentro. It is also home to a group of 1800 of indigenous families, organized in to six “resquerdos,” or reserves, and eight “cabildos,” or tribes. The eight cabildos are: Yaquiva, La Gaitana, San Andres, Santa Rosa, Calderas, Tumbichucue, Turbina, and San Jose del Pedregal.
The cabildos provide guidance, technical assistance and quality control to the coffee farming families. They have been producing coffee for generations but have historically sold it on the streets or to independent collectors. Recently, though, with some guidance from importers, they have been able to commercialize their coffee for themselves. The total land of the 1400+ families represented in the association amounts to 2,000 hectares with a total of 400 farms—all of which are certified organic.
The average farm in this region is about 3 acres with traditional varietals of Typica and Caturra growing in a forest populated by plantains, avocados, and mangoes. There is ample water coming down out of the mountains that producers use to ferment and wash their coffee. Most have a small hand pulpers out back and ferment overnight in a tub around 10-13 hours depending on the ambient temperature and humidity. The farmers hand-test in the morning to determine if the sugars are fully off the beans and then pop in to the drier—a small parabolic drier with a bamboo floor and domed poly-roof to keep the afternoons rain off. Once dried it goes to the communal warehouse in town where it is catalogued and cupped.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping the Colombia Organic Popayan Tierradentro, from Royal Mile Coffee Roasters in Haddon Township, New Jersey. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Inza, Colombia // Paez, Colombia
producer: smallholder farmers
association: Asociacion de Cabildos Juan Tama
elevation: 1600 – 2100 meters above sea level
cultivars: Caturra, Typica
process: fully washed, dried in parabolic dryers
method: Hario V60
grind: 18, Preciso
coffee: 28 g
water: 425 mL
pour: 2:30 concentric pulse pour
The aroma of the Colombia Popayan Tierradentro is subtly sweet, with nuances of soft floral aromatics and cooked brown sugar, caramel, and red fruits.
Taking my first few sips of the coffee is practically an identical experience to smelling its aroma. Really beautiful and silky flavors of red grape, red delicious apple, cherry, and plum flow over a bed of salted caramel and cane sugar.
As the cup cools off, a subtle bittersweet clementine acidity comes to the forefront of each sip, streaming down the center of the tongue and washing away all the lingering flavors from up front, rounding it in a lingering finish of rose hip aromatics and raw honey.
Medium body; silky mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
Upon finishing their final coffee of the week, Royal Mile Coffee Roasters makes their debut at the Table a perfect three for three; their Colombia Organic Popayan Tierradentro is a sweet, elegant, and classy cup of 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.