Woe is me, this is the last of my coffee samples from Portland, Oregon’s Tanager Coffee Roasters. It took me forever to get this review posted, but the good news is that CJ, Tanager’s proprietor, still has this coffee available for the ridiculously great price of $12/bag!
Today’s coffee is Tanager’s Santa Josefa from the mountains of Villa Rica, Peru, and the story of this coffee is as interesting as the coffee itself. I got to learn about this coffee directly from CJ over a couple beers during my last trip to Portland. What better way to hear the stories behind these coffees, without having boots on the ground at origin?!
The owner of Finca Santa Josefa is Traudel Gehrmann Mick, the daughter of a German immigrant who settled in Villa Rica during the first half of the 20th century. This part of Peru was a common place for German immigrants to find themselves between WWI and WWII and Villa Rica is still populated 90% by people of German heritage! Traudel’s father planted coffee on his small plot of land, teaching her from a young age about how to cultivate it in the highlands of Peru.
During the political unrest and violence that plagued Peru from the 1980’s-2000 Traudel’s husband was killed and she fled Finca Santa Josefa for the relative safety of Lima. Once things settled down, Traudel and her new husband moved back to the farm and resumed coffee growing. As life often does, though, Traudel was thrown another curve ball, discovering that she had cancer. She left the farm again for several years to be treated and undergo rehabilitation. She survived the ordeal and returned to Santa Josefa to once again grow coffee with her husband.
In many ways, coffees ability to grow and thrive is a metaphor for Traudel’s story of survival and adaptation. For the past four years Traudel has been separating her coffees into single-varietal lots of caturra and pacamara. This particular coffee is 100% Red Caturra and it’s the first harvest that has become available on the market. Finca Santa Josefa also has its own mill and they process their own coffee on the farm, too. Traudel has even gotten the farm Rainforest Alliance certified!
This is a washed coffee that I prepared using my standard 15:1 ratio, 4:00 brew in the Gino pourover dripper. I found this coffee to have a fruity character, overall. There was a touch of “sourness” in the finish (pleasant, don’t think of this descriptor as being in any way negative) that I associate with lactic acid fermentation processes in coffee, but I don’t know if they use that method of fermentation at Finca Santa Josefa or not.
This coffee also featured pleasant, round sweetness and I found it mild and balanced. I picked up gorgeous rose notes in the flavor as the coffee cooled and a floral and lightly spiced (cinnamon, perhaps?) in the late sip.
I don’t have a lot of experience with Peruvian coffees but I really enjoyed this coffee and Tanager has done another top-notch job in roasting this coffee. CJ has such deep respect for coffee and its role in human society, I always enjoy cups from his brand! And that price!
Producer: Traudel Gehrmann Mick
Farm: Finca Santa Josefa
Sub-Region: Villa Rica
Roaster’s notes: cherry juice, apricots, maple syrup