It’s always great to start a new week with a new-to-me roaster! On this fine Monday morning I have Progeny Coffee Farmers, who have revolutionized the way coffee business is being conducted in Colombia, and their El Valiente, a Typica from Colombia. Let’s drink!
PROGENY COFFEE FARMERS EL VALIENTE
Today’s coffee is pretty special. It is grown by an 80 year old man in Colombia named Luis Ignacio Mejia. He was growing this coffee and planning on not even selling it, but when he heard about Progeny Coffee Farmers’ association, he decided to present it to them and see what they thought. Progeny fell in love with his coffee instantly and couldn’t believe it was Colombian grown. This farmer does everything himself… growing, picking, selecting, peeling, washing, drying, bagging… and HE’S 80 YEARS OLD! He has a tiny farm and he ended up with just 70kg of coffee from this crop. Progeny got them both, so it’s a great way to taste a true microlot of coffee from a special grower.
Progeny Coffee Farmers was started by Maria Palacio, a 5th generation coffee farmer from Colombia. Maria fondly remembers picking coffee with her family as a child, but she was also constantly being told of how hard a life it is, how there’s no future in coffee, and how she needed an education and to get out of coffee. Maria did leave and moved to New York to work in the design and fashion industries, but things just got more and more difficult for coffee farmers in Colombia, in the meantime. Around 2012, Maria and a handful of other core business owners have been providing unique opportunities for coffee farmers in Colombia. She noticed that farmers who had an education ran their farms like businesses, compared to those without education, and they tended to be much more successful. Capitalizing on this, Maria, her partners, and 10 initial farm partners launched Progeny with free technical assistance and education and a Q-grader. They also established a local growers’ association and an import/export organization where the farmers are stakeholders and owners.
Progeny buys the green coffee and exports it to their roasting facility in Palo Alto, CA. They only buy coffees that score 85 or higher and anything that scores higher is paid with extra bonus premiums. Initially skeptical, farmers in Colombia have embraced the model and there is a waiting list of farmers wanting the opportunity to work with the company. Through this model, Progeny is able to obtain truly unique microlots of coffee and elevate the quality of life for these farmers and their families, attempting to make coffee growing in Colombia a viable and profitable business again.
This lot from Luis is a Typica variety that scored 88 (a very good coffee… many of the 90+’s you see around are often inflated ratings) and was grown around 1900masl. Progeny gives us tasting notes of, “floral, jasmine, honey, citric, tangerine.” This coffee has a light to medium roast that I think accentuates it very nicely. Always a tricky thing with such a small lot of coffee! I used my standard pourover setup of a 1:16 ratio of 28g of coffee to 450g of water in a notNeutral Gino dripper. Handground grinder was set to 3 and I used Third Wave Water. This one extracts pretty fast so you may want to use a slightly finer grind setting than usual.
There is a rather floral aroma from this cup that I don’t often get from Colombian coffees. On my palate, this coffee screams “light and bright!” It’s a super-clean coffee with an almost green tea vibe about it, but it’s still sweet and fruity, too. I consider this to be a light-bodied cup and lots of citrus notes hit my tongue right at the beginning of the sip. The citrus acidity is bright but is accompanied by a nice honey-like sweetness that holds it down and balances it. The citrus notes definitely lean toward the tangerine, clementine, “Cuties” and “Halos” (how many more names can we come up with for the same fruits! LOL) type of citrus fruits. The sweetness in the cup is light, but offers some balance and keeps any sharp edges off all that bright citrus acidity. It’s almost like a tangerine juice cut with some water. The florals from the aroma do make a reprise in the flavors of this coffee, too, adding some complexity and interest into the second half of the sip.
This is such a light coffee in body but it has some beautiful, deep flavors. This is all about highlighting that phenomenal citrus in the cup while maintaining a balanced approach. If you like airy, light, citrus-forward coffees then this one is for you. If you’re looking for a dark, brooding, roasty Colombian coffee you won’t find any of that here. I absolutely love bright Colombian coffees like this one and the fact that it has a cool story behind it makes it all that much better!
One final word… I really love the bag designs by John Trabelsi. The labels on the white bags really highlight the bright colors one finds in Colombia and the designs suggest traditional patterns and textiles that I can only imagine catch ones eye everywhere in that country. The labels retain a modern aesthetic while still throwing back to tradition and a beautiful use of color. Wonderful!