We have recently launched our Competition Series here at Blossom with the stunning Finca Villarazo, an incredibly complex and tropical coffee grown by Jairo Arcila in the Quindio region of Colombia. To delve a little bit deeper into this coffee we had the pleasure of sitting down with Jairo’s son, Felipe, to find out a little more about the complex processing methods used at his father’s farm and what some of the ambitions are for the farm and their distribution company, Cofinet.
Could you give us a little background information on Cofinet?
I started Cofinet five years ago in Australia with my brother with the idea of helping our family sell their coffee for a better price, as they’d been struggling with low prices due to the low C market for 15 years. As a family we have been involved in the business of growing and distributing coffee in Colombia for over 4 generations, but it was in 2015 we expanded our operations and began exporting speciality coffee to the rest of world.
We realised every year that we could help more and more growers by connecting good roasters with them, so the business continued to grow for three and half years in Australia. At this point we decided to start selling into other countries slowly, without losing our focus of paying higher prices to farmers and being able to provide high quality to roasters as well. We currently work in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Singapore and now the US, representing and supporting a large number of speciality coffee growers and creating sustainable, ethical and long-term relationships.
It’s clear looking at your offerings that experimental processing is what seems to set you apart from other importers. What do you find appealing about encouraging farmers to use experimental processing?
In the first three years we did a lot of work with washed processing, but in Colombia there’s a lot of very, very, very good washed coffees so in order for coffee to be something ‘out of the box’, it had to be something else: either a long fermentation, a honey or a natural. Roasters around the world are spoiled with very good washed Colombian coffees and ultimately if there is too much of this same style and quality, then the price goes down. The experimental processing has a very strong impact on the cup profile, and we found that roasters have been really appreciating this.
You describe the coffee we have selected from Finca Villarazo as ‘EF2’ (Experimental Fermentation 2). Could you outline what this is?
EF2 came after a few years of trial and error at our farm, and we’re now encouraging farmers in every part of Colombia to use it as it works really well and is also very easy to do. It involves floating and hand sorting every single batch that is picked before storing the cherry in GrainPro bags for 48 hours. At this time the cherries are in an anaerobic environment and the temperature is regulated by the Co2 produced naturally, so we get a cold environment in which we can get delicate, fruity notes and avoid overly wild flavours.
We’re proud to be roasting coffee produced by your father, Jairo. Could you tell us about his background in coffee and about how receptive he was to these new processing techniques?
Oh man! He was very reluctant to it and still is. My dad has been working in the coffee industry for 41 years, previously for the second largest exporter in Colombia, so he’s very, very old-school. For him, the cheapest he could dry, process and deliver his coffee was the best option because he was only paid by volume. Regardless of how clean his processing was or how well stored his coffee was, he was only paid by volume, so it’s been very tricky to work around this mindset.
At the beginning when he saw me separating small lots from different growers and processing naturals by myself, he told me I was crazy and not to waste time. It’s always hard to change your father’s mindset, which I think is something everyone has to deal with in their lives. The only way that I’ve managed to change my dad’s mind is by giving him roasted coffee from our customers, and there’s nothing that makes his more happy.
Finca Villarazo is available to pre-order here.
You can learn more about Cofinet here.