Producer: The Association of Authorities of the Territorial Council of Indigenous Peoples Juan Tama-Inzá, Cauca
Region: Inzá, Cauca
Elevation: 1,300-2,150 m.a.s.l.
Variety: Caturra, Typica, Colombia, Tabí, San Bernardo, Castillo
Processes: Washed & Ethyl Acetate (EA) Decaf
The Association of Authorities of the Territorial Council of Indigenous Peoples Juan Tama-Inzá represents eight indigenous communities - more than 600 specialty coffee-producing families - in the municipality of Inzá, Cauca, Colombia. While nearly 20% of the producers are certified organic, the entire organization is committed to the practices and values of organic farm management - forgoing the use of fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides, and limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers.
About the Exporter: Cóndor Specialty Coffee
Founded in 1987, Exportadora de Café Cóndor was the first exporter of Colombian specialty coffee to pay premiums to producers in recognition of the efforts made for quality. The company joined the ECOM Group in 2012, and they now manage a full supply chain from farm to port through their own in-house facilities: 6 quality laboratories, 5 buying stations, 1 milling plant in Cauca with the newest technologies, and 1 wet mill under construction. They ship full or mixed containers.
Cóndor works alongside the growers to advise them in post- harvesting processes, tree nutrition, and best agricultural practices. Additionally, Cóndor holds quality competitions in different regions throughout the year tp motivate producers to improve their quality and select the best lots for export.
Lemon-lime, Tropical and Stone Fruits, Creamy
This coffee was produced in the typical fully-washed and sun-dried process for the region. Normally at the higher-elevation farms of the area, ripe cherries are picked and pulped daily. Instead of emptying the fermentation tanks daily as well, new coffee is usually pulped on top of the previous days coffee for up to one week.
When new coffee and water is added though the daily pulping to the fermentation mass, PH is lowered and fermentation is slowed due to both the addition of new material and the drop of temperature from the additional cool fresh mountain water. This allows for longer fermentation times which also tends to add complexity to the cup profile.
Ethyl Acetate (EA) Decaf
The decaffeinated version of this coffee is processed at Descafecol, a company based on the outskirts of the town of Manizales in Colombia.
The process for decaffeination begins with sugar cane grown just a few hours south of Descafecol, that is turned into molasses. The molasses is then fermented to create ethanol and processed with acetic acid to create the ethyl acetate that will be used in the extraction of caffeine.
Ethyl acetate is used in food quite extensively and is known for bringing a fruity flavor to hard candy, chewing gum, ice cream, and many other products. It can also be naturally occurring in fruits (pineapple, berries, apples, and pears), is a key to the flavor of rum, and can be found in beer and wine, as well. Ethyl acetate is also used in the decaffeination of not only coffee, but also tea.
So how is this used to decaffeinate the coffee?
Green coffee is brought to Descafecol and put in tanks where the coffee is steamed and introduced to hot water to open up the structure of the coffee to ready it for the extraction of the caffeine. Once ready, the EA solution is introduced to the coffee and run through multiple times. During this the caffeine bonds with the ethyl acetate and is ultimately separated from the coffee, removing a minimum of 97% of the caffeine. After the extraction of caffeine, the coffee is steamed once again to remove any traces of the ethyl acetate, and then sent to dryers to bring the coffee back down to near its original moisture content. Once dried the coffee has a light food grade safe wax coating applied to it that is integral to protecting the coffee and increasing shelf stability. Finally the coffee is bagged back up (in grainpro) and sent out.
The municipality of Inzá is located between the Wila and Puracé volcanoes, surrounded by the Páramo de Guanacas and Páramo de Moras, in the region called “Tierradentro.” The coffee of the Juan Tama group is grown between 1,300 to 2,150 meters above sea level, with varieties such as Caturra, Typica, Colombia, Tabí, San Bernardo, Castillo (to a lesser extent), and recently Pink Bourbon and Geisha. The average farm size is one hectare, allowing greater dedication to the processes on the farm.
The violent and unstable history of the region and all of southern Colombia once made it difficult to export specialty products like coffee. Fortunately, things have changed a great deal in recent years and the region is now flourishing in terms of coffee and stability. Inzá is blessed with fertile soils and good land for producing coffee of excellent quality.
Photos Courtesy of Cóndor Specialty Coffee