Friday, November 16, 2007


Mesa de los Santos, Version 10

It’s beginning to sound like an annually played broken record for us to sing the virtues of our organic Colombian coffee Mesa de los Santos from Finca El Roble, but it can’t be helped. I just spent a long weekend on the farm and it is more alive and breathtaking than ever before. The harvest is in full swing, the experimental coffee plot planted 4 years ago with over 60 different varieties of coffee is now in production, and the on farm cupping lab is fully operational. Meanwhile, the farm is a riot of birdlife with an endless symphony of aviary arias providing an ever present auditory backdrop.

This year’s harvest will be the biggest ever in the history of the farm. As per usual, the crop is divided into 2 different offerings – the “Mesa de los Santos” blend (a mix of caturra and variedad colombiana), and the “Don Telmo” mark which is a 100% bourbon varietal. We have both coffees coming in this year with shipments starting in the next 2 weeks and running through March. The bourbon consistently rated exceptionally well during the on farm blind cupping sessions.

The biggest treat during the visit was cupping over 40 different coffees from an experimental plot on the farm. Four years ago Don Oswaldo, the owner of the farm, planted six trees each of over 60 different coffee varietals, primarily Arabica including Mocca, Geisha, Icatu, et al., with some Robusta and even Liberica as well. We blind cupped 40 of these coffees along with the regular on farm production of Mesa and Bourbon over the course of 2 days and discovered some mind blowing coffees. The winning varietal (top secret) will be planted on a waiting 20 hectare plot at the top of the farm. It will be another 4 years before the mystery winner (NOT Geisha, how passé, please!) will be available for sale but the wait will be worth it.

This was my third visit to the farm. When I was last here in 2002, several plots of bourbon had just been planted along with a variety of accompanying shade trees. These plants are now in full production and the shade trees are up to 30 feet high! The transformation from open grass pastureland to multi shade storied coffee plot is stunning. An onslaught of both native and visiting migratory bird species have arrived along with the trees and shade cover. A recent survey counted over 120 bird species, while on a brief Sunday morning walk we counted over 30 species on our own without trying too hard.

Don Oswaldo and his employees have worked insanely hard these past 8 years to bring this farm to where it is today. It is a healthy, gorgeous, productive certified organic farm, with a gazillion shade trees (SMBC and Rainforest Alliance certified ), more birds than a Hitchcock film, and a consistent, dependable supply of dynamite coffee. With the addition of the living library of coffee varieties on the experimental plot and an on farm cupping lab heralding images of a Napa Valley winery, this is my new coffee Mecca. Let Don Oswaldo know when you want to make the hadj and let us know if you want to book any of this coffee before it does its annual disappearing act from our offering list.-----J. Cossette

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