Colombia - La Chiquita - Mandarin BARREL Natural
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PROCESS: Mandarin Natural Barrel Age
ELEVATION: 1500 METERS
More About Natural Barrel Aged Processing:
This lot was picked in September and fermented in cherry along with freshly picked dehydrated mandarin from neighboring farms that adds outstanding natural mandarin flavor. The coffee and mandarin fermented for 110 hours in sealed 20 liter plastic tanks with CO2 release valves. The cherries then dried for 20 days on raised beds in small batches with precise temperature and humidity control throughout the drying stage. As soon the moisture of the cherries hit 11%, they were placed for almost two months into oak barrels previously used for premium Colombian rum storage to stabilize flavors and gain intensity with elegant hints of liquor. Coffee was stored for another 15-20 days in GrainPro bags before being hulled and packed for export.
La Chiquita coffee farm is located in Chinchina, Caldas, Colombia. La Chiquita means “The Petite” or “The Little One” in Spanish. The farm is only two hectares planted with the Tabi variety. The remaining three hectares of the property is a family resort area with a beautiful limestone mansion with guest rooms, swimming pool, and BBQ area. Diego and his sister Ana Maria bought the farm in 2003. In 2013, Diego moved back to Colombia from Barcelona where he studied and worked for 20 years as a business administrator in the tourism industry. During this time, Diego traveled across Europe and was inspired by wine production. He took several courses and participated in wine tastings and ultimately decided to dedicate the next years of his life to small batch wine production in his motherland.
However, when he returned to Colombia he saw that the wine production was limited to elite producers and overall was an under-developed industry due to the lack of infrastructure, knowledge, and equipment. The only vineyard producing wine for sale is located in the department of Boyaca, where only specific grape varieties can yield a crop. Encouraged by potential opportunities, Diego started looking into other crops that can be turned into wine, which led him to experiment with fruit fermentations, distillation, and cask aging. Once he landed on coffee as the crop to which he would dedicate himself, Diego has remained committed to creating an outstanding coffee with gentle, naturally-created distillation notes like those in wine, rum, brandy, or whiskey.
It took Diego some three years to research, learn coffee tasting, and develop skills as a coffee cupper until he finally found his perfect recipe for the Tabi variety that was planted on the farm when he bought it. Diego produces small batches of 250 kg with much care at each stage from pickling and fermenting to washing and drying only on the raised beds. The cherries are exclusively picked and sorted by women from the Palestina village 30 minutes away from La Chiquita who receive a better payment for their work.