Waiting for the very first Sidra

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A few weeks ago I traveled to the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes, to taste the first harvest of Sidra coffee in one of my favorite farms, the sophisticated La Palma y el Tucan. I was their guest for two days in the beautifully located farm, staying in the wooden eco friendly cabins. The feeling of sleeping and waking up in such an environment, it is not easy to describe in words. Tranquility, sounds from the river Apulo passing through trees, unique sense.

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The fruits of Sidra grow on trees that reach up to 2.5 meters high just in the first three years, in a very specific microclimate with high humidity levels. Already on the farm the plant has adapted so well. The formation of the branches coming from the trunk resembles that of Geisha. We evaluated 6 picolots including Sidra, extremely small quantities of different varieties, Heroes and Legendary virieties, like the owners have named them, which make only 1% of production. Of these, I have chosen the Sidra and bought their entire production, a limited reserve lot for the project of Direct Relationship for Taf coffee, which is expected to arrive soon in the roastery in Athens. For the processing, they used a Lactic-Acid Fermentation, which resulted in a complex cup full with notes of cedar and red apple, so special.

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I feel so excited about this very first harvest, the moment of 2015 that someone will know how Sidra from La Palma y El Tucan, in Taf roasting tastes like.

The evening at the farm passed pleasantly, by drinking Argentinian Merlot, with strong tannins in the mouth and an exquisite rum Santa Teresa Gran Reserva from Venezuela, accompaniment of traditional music. All happened slowly and when even thinking of that two nights there, is enough to feel that you can lose yourself in the Cordillera.

You can watch the amazing  video that my friends – owners of the farm La Palma y El Tucan made for our collaboration here!

If you find yourself in Bogota

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phonto (4)Colombia is the second country in Arabica coffee production. However, usually almost all of its quality coffee is exported while locals and visitors drink tinto, a poor quality raw material that Colombians could not sell, because other countries would not buy and of course would not be consumed. Although I do not like tinto at all, I like Bogota very much.
It has a charm, is situated at an altitude of 2640 meters, a great feature of the place that can be verified easily,
if you climb to Monserrate, in the center of the city.

phonto (10) phonto (11) If you like to drink really good coffee, Bourbon worths a visit. It is a coffee shop that gets high quality coffee, 100% Colombian, and really stands out. Located in the upper class neighborhood of Rosales, amongst traditional houses, with the characteristic terracotta bricks, offers the best you can find.

phonto (6)The owners are Paola Laguna Becerra and Jose Alberto Rosero, they can recognize exquisite local production to supply their coffee house. They roast the beans in their in house micro-roastery and then,  they use them for espresso and brew bar needs. Their up to date brew bar uses a great range of methods and utensils, such as siphon, pour over on V60, aeropress, chemex and many more. People working on service are kind, smiley, and organized, elegantly dressed in aprons, everything in the coffee house is cared, with a fresh touch.

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 Apart from the great espresso shots I had been offered, I tried cold brew, in spite my initial refusal, as up to that time, not even one cold brew could  meet my taste criteria. However,  Bourbon cooperates with 21gramos cold brew. I am not at all a fan of this beverage, but I have to admit that it was so special, the only really good cold brew I have taste. So, if you find yourself in Bogota, Bourbon Coffee Roasters worths more than a visit, for all the above reasons and I am sure you will find many more.

Coffee from Colombia

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Colombia is the fountain of arabica coffee, is the second largest producer of coffee in the world. Colombian coffee is cultivated on its particular geographical regions, that consisted of the southern (Narino, Huila,  South of Tolima and Cauca), the central (Caldas, Quindio, Risaralda, Norte del Vale, Antioquio, Cundinamarca, Norte del Tolima), and the north (with the departments of Magdalena, Casanare, Cesar, Norte de Santander and Santader). Coffee grows on the Cordillera de los Andes, the western part of the principal Andes chain. There is a ten- point deviantion in the gradient from the lowest to the highest level and that range is taken as a sample for all central America and Mexico. Its climate, with continuous rainfalls, gives people the chance to harvest all year round.

phonto (7) There are two types of harvesting, reffering to the amount produced, the principal period from Arpil until June and the so-called Mitaca, which begins on September and last up to December.Colombia’s special feature is that the majority of coffee beans (60%) comes from producers that only own areas smaller than a hectar. Less that 1% of the producers owns more than 20 hectars. That makes Colombia the country of 500.000 farms.  From this enormous amount, I only distinguish one.

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La palma y el tucan is situated in Cudinamarca, 1.800 meters above sea level and has a three year old story. I visit them once a year. The owners, Elisa and Felipe are two visioneers that focus on production on their own, unique way. They worship quality and look for persistency in their coffee, like me, we are bound by common values. They don’t follow the traditional model of cultivation, but instead they have cultivated exotic varieties for Colombia, such as SL 28, typica, geisha, red bourbon.
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Farm’s microclimate is perfect and yet favored by river Apulo that passes by the farm.The owners have built a wash station to make the processing, fully harmonized with the environment, that uses solar power system panels. The lab has a sophisticated style, wearing camouflage, all covered up with mirrors- that reflect the trees! They have also taken good care of their guests and made cabins for them.

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Taking for granted that the farm is three years old and the trees are still young, giving low production, La palma y el tucan coordinates with the neighboring farms with a special care program, that lets them control the picking and then practice the process in the farm.

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Until today I was given coffee made out of this neighboring farming programm, but this year I am waiting a tiny amount from the already small production of their own coffee trees. Processing follows particular methods and rules, with enormous caring for the mature fruits, such as experimenting on different customised processing profiles. In their lab I had the chance to taste many of these cups and I will always remember it because there are only few times that someone has such a complete coffee experience, from tree and processing to the cup.

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During my last visit, I made two choises from the farms next to La palma y el tucan, named Rosalbina and Jorge Espitia.
I am expecting to travel to Colombia, to taste the coffee from the cherries that grew in their own trees and to sleep in the new cabins at this earthly paradise named La palma y el tucan.

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Quality at Brew Lab, Nicosia

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Here I am in Nicosia in Cyprus, to give a seminar about espresso and also to promote Taf Coffee in the local market. One year before I had visited Nicosia because a new espresso bar opened its doors for the first time, it was the Brew Lab. I am glad to return and so satisfied to see this coffee shop actually gained reputation only by insisting in quality.
Chris, the owner is devoted in Taf quality, he takes the right steps in preparation so that the beverages have
standard taste and hight quality.

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Nicosia, like Athens,  is currently facing economic crisis, however coffee services are not influenced. There is no quality discount. It reminds me a lot of the first months back in 2009 when Taf was launched in the Greek marketplace. We were in the middle of an economic hurricane; we had to insist again and again that even in hard times you must chase high quality. Today we are sure that it was worth trying.

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The coffee I am trying is a single estate espresso from La Bandera farm, a red Catuai variety, from the region Copey de Dotta, in Tarazzu Costa Rica. The red beans have matured in altitude of 1850- 1950 m. above sea level. This was the lot I had chosen on March 2014 for its genuine cup profile and especially the intense sweet acidity, the brown sugar finish. I bought it for Taf and now here it is in my cup in Cyprus on a shiny day of 20° C, accompanying me in browsing the coffee book “The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee”. Chris prepared the espresso shot using 21 gr. of fresh coffee in the double portafilter of La Marzocco Linea, water temperature was 92,5 °C and extraction time 23 seconds.
The seminar of the ideal espresso preparation is about to start.