INTELLIGENTSIA COFFEE February 2015 Finca Takesi BOLIVIA by Benjamin Morse Operations Assistant / Green Coffee Buyer There are some people that are not afraid to challenge the status quo. They reject conventional wisdom. They push boundaries. When these people succeed, they create new paradigms. They write a new set of rules. The family behind Finca Takesi—the world’s highest coffee farm— has redefined the standards surrounding the elevation at which coffee can thrive. The results achieved are truly stunning coffees. In 2001, the Iturralde family decided to start a coffee farm, partly in response to the dismal reputation of Bolivian coffee. They were determined to produce world class coffee, and in turn, show other Bolivian producers focusing on quality was a path to a sustainable livelihood. Dozens of coffee experts visited the future site of the farm and told the Iturralde family that coffee could not survive at such high altitudes. Fortunately, the Iturraldes chose to ignored the experts. Today, Finca Takesi grows certified organic Typica, Catuai, and Geisha varieties on 38 hectares of land at altitudes reaching 2,500 meters above sea level (8,202 feet). For Finca Takesi, the journey to becoming a fully-functioning coffee farm has not been easy. The Iturralde family has had to adapt almost all of their agricultural practices to meet the challenges of extreme elevation, cold temperatures, and a mere four to five hours of daily sunlight. Germination on Finca Takesi takes twice as long as other farms, only 60% of seedlings in the nursery survive, it takes an extra one-and-a-half years for trees to bear fruit, an extra year to recover from pruning, and only select areas of the mountain receive sufficient sunlight and warmth for coffee to thrive. Despite these challenges, Finca Takesi has the healthiest and most well-cared-for coffee I have ever seen. The extreme elevation also transforms the harvesting process, which normally lasts three or four months, into a nearly year-round endeavor. Due to uneven flowering and cherry ripening cycles caused by the higher altitudes, the farm is harvesting small quantities of cherries from March until December. The cherries are then pulped, fermented, washed, and dried in a small mechanical dryer that is powered by a nearby hydroelectric dam. We have selected three phenomenal organic coffees for this year’s Finca Takesi Collection. The first comes from a lot of Typica harvested over an eightmonth period from both the high and low altitude sections of the farm (1,800 to 2,500 meters). This variety has a storied history, winning first place at Bolivia’s Cup of Excellence in 2009 - the last year the competition was held. The second is a small lot of Typica peaberry. These tiny beans were harvested from the same sections of the farm and sorted specifically for their size and amazing flavor. Last is a “nano-lot” of the Geisha variety. The Geisha grown on Finca Takesi is simply one of the finest coffees we have ever tasted. We are privileged to continue, for a second year, our exclusive Direct Trade relationship with Finca Takesi and are once again proud to be the only roaster in the United States to offer coffees from this extraordinary farm. AgroTakesi / Finca Takesi Sud Yungas Typica, Geisha 1800 - 2500 masl March - October 2014 PRODUCER /FARM REGION CULTIVAR ELEVATION HARVEST TYPICA Typica is one of the two oldest known varieties of the Coffea arabica species and its arrival in Bolivia recounts the history of coffee. C. arabica originated in Ethiopia where today the species still grows wild in the tropical highland forests. The C. arabica species was introduced in Yemen in the 13th or 14th century. Around 1700, coffee plants from Yemen—including Typica—were planted at the Hortus Botanicus in Amsterdam. The Typica trees from this Dutch botanical garden were introduced throughout Central and South America and were the first coffee trees planted in the New World. It is a noble variety, recognizable by its oval-shaped fruit and bronze colored leaves and coveted by tasters for its sweetness and complex flavor traits. Yet despite its tremendous quality potential, Typica is on the run—it has nearly disappeared from the Americas and is rarely planted anymore due to its low productivity and fragility. Bolivia is one of the few places in the world where this heirloom variety still represents a significant portion of the coffees being cultivated. Grown between 1,800 and 2,500 masl. TYPICA PEABERRY A peaberry is a natural mutation of the coffee bean inside the coffee cherry. Normally the coffee cherry contains two seeds that develop flat against each other. In about 5% of coffees grown, only one of the two seeds is fertilized, resulting in only a single seed developing inside the cherry. These single seeds are referred to as peaberries because of their smaller oval or pea-shaped appearance. Because there is no way to tell by looking at the coffee cherry itself whether it contains a peaberry, these tiny beans must be sorted out after picking and processing is complete. Peaberries are separated from the rest of the harvest and often sold separately, in many cases commanding a higher price. In the past, the peaberry was regarded as a defect, but we now know that big flavors can come in small packages. Grown between 1,800 and 2,500 masl. GEISHA This variety gained international fame at the 2003 Cup of Excellence Competition in Panama when Daniel Peterson of the Esmeralda Estate submitted a sample of Geisha. The competition was over before it began. The Geisha enchanted the international jury. For the past decade, Geisha coffee has garnered countless awards. It has set and then broken five records for the most expensive auction coffee in the world. In the process it has become the most talked about coffee in the industry. The origin of the variety can be traced back to 1931 when botanists made an expedition into the forests of Southwestern Ethiopia to collect coffee seeds in an area that was referred to by locals as “Geisha” (or “Gesha”). Those seeds were taken to Kenya and planted in a nursery to grow. Over the past 80 years, the seeds from those trees have been distributed to other parts of Africa, Central, and South America. Grown at 1,960 masl.
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