Coffee, like wine, can be transportive. The influence of the soil in which it is grown is crucial in creating an experience which can take the drinker to the certain time, the certain place in which it was created. The other element vital in the creation of this coffee, is the producer themselves.
In the case of our August Bean of the Month – Colombia Diofanor Black Honey, the coffee takes you high up into the Andes to the Ruiz family farm La Promesa. La Promesa (The Promise) lies tucked away in Buenavista, the smallest municipality of Quindío, the second smallest department in Colombia.
The slopes are covered with tropical rainforest, bamboo and palms. The soil is rich and volcanic, a legacy of the formation of the region, a place where tectonic plates which smashed together 45 million years ago created the Ring of Fire, part of which now forms the top of one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world. It is hot, humid and lush in Quindío, perfect for coffee growing and the department is a powerhouse of coffee production, both in terms of quantity and quality.
This coffee takes you to that place, but it is special in that it is also offers the drinker a detailed portrait of the man who produced it. Diofanor Ruiz comes from generations of coffee growers and he is passionate about his vocation.
Dedicated to environmentally friendly practice, Diofanor’s 20 hectares of Castillo variety coffee trees are nurtured without the use of chemicals. And most importantly, all the honey processing is carried out on-site by the family.
So what is processing? To put it simply, it is what the coffee grower chooses to do with the ripe coffee cherries once they are picked. All coffee is delivered to its final milling in the same state – green, raw, dried seeds encased in a protective shell called parchment. What happens between the ripe cherry and the raw beans can make all the difference.
To draw another parallel with wine, it is similar to the winemaker’s decision to age in an oak barrel versus a steel tank. There are three common types of processing: natural (dry), honey (semi-washed), and washed (wet).