Tanager El Jazmin

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Bertha La Palma TanagerCJ Speelman’s Tanager is one of my favorite Portland-based roasters. He does a great job roasting coffee, he is really into doing right by the farmers and coffees, and he’s an all-around cool guy! Last time I was in Portland I got to spend some time over a couple beers talking to CJ and he hooked me up with some of his current coffee offerings to taste. Today’s review is of Tanager’s El Jazmin, which you can buy from CJ for $16.

I have a lot of information about this coffee, but let’s taste this coffee first! This is a washed coffee from a small Colombian farm that has been processed in the expert hands of my friends at La Palma y El Tucan. I found this coffee to have nice bitterness (let’s be honest, when we describe “sweetness” in coffee it’s in the context of the overall bitter character of coffee…) overall.

Within that bitterness I found soft, sweet tropical fruits in the flavors with some lemon acidity in the high notes. As the cup cooled I perceived some peach in the sweetness and some buttery flavors in the long, lingering aftertaste. This coffee has a very long finish and aftertaste and a syrupy mouthfeel and body.

There was a savory element to this coffee, too, and something spicy, maybe nutmeg, very far back in the flavor. This coffee is another excellent example of the amazing coffees coming out of La Palma y El Tucan’s processing facility. Every time I drink one of their coffees, I am impressed and the quality is excellent across the board. I tend to like the lactic fermented coffees better as that hint of refreshing sourness they tend to have is my favorite thing in the world right now, but that being said, this is still an excellent coffee and very well balanced. Read more about it below!

El Jazmin is a small (less than two acres!) coffee farm near Payacal, Colombia and is owned by Bertha Ovalle, who farms her land with the help of her son. It is our luck that her farm is close enough to La Palma y El Tucan to be able to take part in their Neighbors & Crops program, otherwise we’d probably never have access to Bertha’s wonderful coffee!

In many cases, Colombian coffee farmers pick, mill and ferment their own coffee cherry, then sell what is called “parchment coffee” (the coffee seed surrounded by a protective parchment layer which is later milled off after drying) to a local cooperative. The coffees are mixed and sold as such. La Palma y El Tucan’s program sends pickers to farms like El Jazmin who pick the coffee and then return it to La Palma’s facility for processing, fermenting and drying. This allows their expert team to control the process more and also keep exceptional lots of coffee (which I have had many of… see my list of reviews under my logo at the top of the page and pay attention to the Colombian coffees from Onyx in Arkansas and Kansas City’s Oddly Correct) separate.

La Palma y El Tucan is expert at using acetic and lactic acid fermentation to remove the mucilage from coffee and these fermentation practices can affect the flavor of washed coffees dramatically. This is notable because they have been able to elevate the Castillo varietal common to this region of Colombia into something well-regarded and sought after by roasters.

Producer/Farm: Bertha Ovalle/El Jazmin
Region: Cundinamarca (Payacal, Colombia)
Elevation: 1500masl
Process: washed, lactic and acetic acid fermentation
Tanager’s tasting notes: marionberry, buchwheat honey, cardamom, juicy and creamy body