ALFONSO VILLAGÓMEZ, San Agustín 48hr Natural
This is the second lot we’ve bought from Alfonso after featuring one of his amazing coffees in our ICON series. The coffees he produces at San Agustín are amazingly fruit forward and this lot is super complex and sweet, with notes of ripe pineapple, strawberries and milk chocolate.
LOCATION: Hacienda San Agustín, Tulipe, Pichincha
ALTITUDE: 1,600 - 1,700 masl
FARM GATE PRICE: $22.20/kg
Ecuador is a country better known for its cacao and flower production than coffee, and is often overshadowed by its neighbours Colombia and Peru. However, they are producing some incredibly exotic and highly sought after coffees, due in part to the high altitudes and the range of traditional and improved varieties found here. The best quality coffees from here command really high prices due to the high labour costs involved, low yields and high cost of production.
80 kilometres north-west of the capital city of Quito, lies the parish of Tulipe. The region is characterised by the ruins of the Yumbos; an ancestral people who inhabited the area from around 800 BC. The ancient ruins of Tulipe were once a ceremonial site where the beliefs of the Yumbos were reflected in the geometry and architecture. During the conquests of the Incas and the Spanish, they endured by adopting the role of merchants, offering agricultural goods and access to trading routes from the coast to the high Andes. It is believed that their disappearance was due partly to diseases brought by the colonisers, followed by a powerful eruption of the Pichincha volcano in 1660. Nowadays, Tulipe is a touristic and agricultural area, producing mainly sugar cane and cattle.
Alfonso Villagomez is a Q-grader and former environmental consultant who is incredibly methodical in his approach to producing coffee. His hacienda, San Agustin is located only a few hundred miles from the ruins of Tulipe. Although the farm has belonged to his family for three generations, they only started producing coffee as recently as 2014. They grow both Typica Mejorado and Caturra and their typical cup profiles are very sweet, fruity and have really interesting acidity. Alfonso has a keen eye for detail and he has been experimenting with extended fermentations and carbonic maceration. He is also one of the few producers in the area who can offer a natural processed coffee as the region is very humid and has abundant annual rainfall. His solution is drying the cherries in a solar-powered drying chamber, where the heat and humidity can be precisely controlled.
This coffee was first sorted by hand to remove any unripe cherries. The selected cherries are then placed in fermentation tanks filled with water for 48 hours. The whole cherries are then transported to the solar drying chamber where they are turned regularly to promote even drying. After 15 days the cherries are then moved to raised African beds inside poly-tunnels where slowly finish the final stage of drying. During this process, a second hand selection is done to remove any unwanted cherries. After drying, the coffee is stabilised through resting in GrainPro bags in a dry, cool room for approximately 30 days.