Finca Takesi - Intelligentsia Coffee

February 2015
Finca Takesi
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
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
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.