We have been partnered with Miguel since 2012, but have followed his coffee closely since 2010. His farm enjoys some of the highest altitudes in Llano Bonito. This altitude, coupled with the great care he has for his farm and mixed varieties, produces a very fruit-forward coffee with a very sweet and elegant acidity. Miguel also recognizes the importance of keeping his cherry pickers happy, so he pays them well above the minimum and demands very good quality picking in return.
I have had the pleasure of meeting with Miguel a number of times now, and we have developed a nice friendship; I have a great deal of respect for the man. While Miguel spends most of his time on the coffee farm, he also has an interesting side business with his sons: he breeds cows. Although at first take this sounds like a fairly straightforward business, there are many idiosyncrasies that separate the good breeders from the bad…much like good coffee producers from bad.
Miguel is also part of a program we launched with Ricardo called “sangre de toro”. This term means bull’s blood, which is the colour the coffee cherries take on when they are picked very ripe. We pay Miguel a premium for exceptional cherry delivery and, in turn, Miguel pays his pickers more. The improved picking has resulted in a sweeter and more complex cup.
This coffee has gone through a special drying protocol at Helsar this past year. Our drying experiments with Ricardo for the past five or so years have all been focused on lowering the temperature of the guardiolas and resting the coffee during the drying process. Every year, Ricardo has been lowering the air temperature in the guardiolas by a few degrees and extending the drying times. The end goal of extending these drying times is essentially to preserve both the quality and shelf life of the green bean. Through these experiments we have seen a remarkable improvement in shelf life year after year. As always, this green coffee was frozen immediately on arrival in Calgary, to preserve freshness.