The Andes Mountain range passes through Colombia like a vein. If you follow it across the whole country you will also follow the best areas for coffee production. The further south you go the closer to the Pacific Ocean you go.
San Jose is a small village within the greater region of Pedregal, which is located in the southeast of Cauca. This small lot is the handiwork of seven producers in the area. They all manually de-pulp their cherries using hand-cranked machines and wash their coffee on site.
The isolation and altitude of this area are what make this coffee so unique. Classic Caturra shrubs dominate the growing hills of these farms. The high elevation of the mountains always brings out the best in the Caturra cultivar, and this lot is no different.
It is comprised mostly of Caturra which is then depulped using a hand-spun depulper, fermented and washed in a single tank over night, and laid out to dry on parabolic raised beds. These beds are laid out similarly to a greenhouse, but with open sides to allow for good airflow. The covering on top allows the coffee to dry well in a rainforest. This coffee is processed fully by the producers, which really highlights the skill and intent that goes into their production of this coffee.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of this cafe. Today we’re sipping a cup of Colombia San Jose de Pedregal, from Spotted Cow Coffee Company in Mill Creek, Washington. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Inza, Cauca, Colombia
producer: Sancho, Oidor, Ultengo, Ulchor, Lis, and Mazabuel families
elevation: 1750 – 2100 meters above sea level
process: fully washed, parabolic bed dried
The aroma coming off the Colombia San Jose is sweet and spicy, with tantalizing notes of creme brulee, Mexican hot chocolate, butterscotch, almond, amaretto, and fruity scents of apple or pear, grape, and a dash of citrus.
Immediately post-brew, the coffee kicks off with a bang. Up front the flavors are sweet and savory. Caramel and honey coat the palate first, while granules of muscovado sugar sprinkle throughout. Cinnamon sticks, chocolate malts, hazelnut, and roasted barley show up in the finish.
As it begins its descent to room temperature, the profile of the coffee doesn’t change so much as it expands.
All of a sudden, silky and juicy fruit flavors explode onto the palate, breaking down the levee and completely flooding the palate, rising and expanding and crashing into every corner of my mouth. A very, very distinct malic acidity dominates the profile, with honeycrisp apple, pomegranate, and Bosc pear being the prevalent flavors. These pomme fruits are accompanied by juicy red grape and a sweet clementine acidity.
Medium body; creamy mouthfeel; citric acidity; clean finish.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
The Colombia San Jose Pedregal, from Spotted Cow Coffee Company, is one of those rare coffees that just doesn’t quit.
Honey and brown sugar are the dominant features of the cup, and these flavors run throughout the course of it—from beginning to end—and silky fruit notes introduce a long, satisfying finish that rounds out the bottom of the cup. Usually, with coffees like this, when the finish introduces itself so early, the cup ends up having a short life; the flavors up front dissipate quickly, then the finish just kind of – sputters out after a short time. Not so with the San Jose—not so at all; its finish just keeps going and going and going.
What makes this cup even more unique is that it never loses its dynamics or its complexity. Some of these coffees go for a long time, sure, but they thin out after a while and the consumer gets bored with them. This coffee, on the other hand, captivated me and held my attention from beginning to end.