Los Naranjos Microlot

Yesterday, I posted about the Las Mingas relationship coffee program run by Virmax.  To summarize, the Las Mingas program differentiates small coffee lots by quality, and works to pair up buyers with individual farmers.  Virmax works with the farmers to improve their methods and quality, which gives them the ability to earn higher prices for their coffee.  For Las Mingas, Virmax separates and cups the samples, and then sends sets of approved samples to prospective buyers.  Buyers roast and cupth e samples, and arrange pricing for the approved lots based on the buyer’s cupping score.  Lots are then milled, vacuum packed, and exported to the buyer.

Our first foray into the program has given us a wonderful microlot–only about 380 lbs.–from Planadas in the Tolima region.  Luis Merchan is the farmer that produced this coffee from his farm, Los Naranjos.  Here is Luis one of his 13,000 trees on the 3 hectacre farm.

The average elevation of Los Naranjos is approximately 5,900 feet above sea level, and Luis estimates his annual production at fifty bags (70 kg net).  Some shade is provided by Guamos trees.  Coffee is washed, and naturally fermented in washing tank, then sun-dried in “heldas”, a traditional drying system built on the roofs of houses–black plastic on top of the wood, which is covered at night and during rain.

Sun-drying coffee

Now for the cup–this coffee cupped well above the other two samples, which were both excellent coffees.   The cup starts with complex fragrance and aroma, with sweet graham and floral notes and toasted grain and malt hints.  Flavors notes of graham, malt, and florals held together by caramel, honey and toffee sweetness.  Excellent interplay of the aromatic, sweet, and deeper caramel notes, held together by a Meyer lemon citric acidity (almost effervescent).  Medium weight, but rich, round and chewy body, outstanding balance (acidity–body, hot to cold), just a wonderful cup.

After I finished cupping the coffee, I sat down with the remaining liquid drained it down to the grounds.  An excellent cup from start to finish.   Soon this coffee will be enroute to home roasters across the country, and others can share this little bit of joy from Luis Merchan, in Planadas, Tolima, Colombia.

Many thanks to Luis Merchan and his family, and to Alejandro and Giancarlo at Virmax for making this possible.

Luis Merchan


One Response to “Los Naranjos Microlot”

  1. Woody/fr Birmingham Says:

    Nice article and pictures Chad. I’m super excited about this coffee. Cup quality, superiour processing, and direct benefit to the producer. Thanks for offering this!

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