Colque, Bolivia 2018
About the coffee
Flavour description: This is a very sweet cup with a velvety mouthfeel and a big body. The coffee has a medium - high, citrus fruit like acidity, reminding of lemon and bergamot. Notes of milk chocolate, peach candies, red grape, with a lemon like aftertaste.
Producer: Maruja Mamni and Nicolas Colque
Location: Collasuyo, about 40 km from Caranavi city, Bolivia
Farm name: La Florida
Varietal: Caturra 75%, Catuaí 15% and Typica 10%
Processing: Fully-washed and dried on raised beds
Harvest: June to September 2018, harvest peaking in July
Elevation: 1550-1650 masl
Exporter: Agricafe (Pedro Roudriguez and family)
Roast: The coffee is light to medium roasted to enhance the natural fruitiness and sweetness in the coffee.
We are very proud, and excited to have this coffee back in our roastery from Maruja Mamni and Nicolas Colque after a year gap. We highly prioritize being loyal customers to the producers we are working with, even if structures change. We put a lot of value in keeping our relationships strong, and want to continue supporting them. By working long term with a producer we can improve quality and ensure a minimum price for next years harvest, which makes the business model more steady and profitable for the producers in the longterm. This coffee got introduced to us by the sustainability project Sol de Manana and was one of the first coffees we fell in love with in Bolivia. Therefor, we are truly proud to have the European exclusivity since 2016 on the coffee, buying half of the production from Colque's farm called La Florida.
This coffee is a good example of what Bolivian coffee can be. It makes a super sweet, sugary cup – typical for Bolivian coffees, enhancing the velvety mouthfeel, giving the coffee a heavier body. You can taste the stunning work the Colque couple has put into this coffee, in the cup.
Meet the couple Colque
In the small colony of Collasuyo in Caranavi region Maruja and Nicolas Colque are doing a careful job on their farm called “ La Florida”. It is a total of 12 hectares where the couple produce and process their coffee, continuously planting more and more coffee on their land. Maruja original family name is Mamani but they refer to themselves as "the Colque family".
Nineteen years ago Nicolas started working in the coffee industry, starting off as a coffee picker earning 1.20 USD per week. This was at the age of 14 whilst his grandmother provided him with food and shelter. In 1999 Nicolas invested his savings from the picking work and bought a farm in the colony of Collasuyo, this farm was to be shared with his future partner, Maruja.
After just a few years Maruja and Nicolas were already selling the coffee that they had planted. They have been working with fully organic guidelines from the beginning, because they saw that there was more market value for organic coffee. Unfortunately there was no real infrastructure around quality coffee in Bolvia at that time, and they were not getting paid for the quality of product they were producing, it didn’t even cover their production costs. In 2010 Maruja and Nicolas sold their farm and moved to Brazil hoping to improve their quality of life, but they quickly changed their mind. It wasn’t what they expected, working over 8 hour days in a sewing plant, and living with 20 other families in locked quarters, which were poor living conditions. After six months the couple returned to Collasuyo and bought back their farm and named it La Florida.
In the last decade, specialty coffee in Bolivia has improved (read more here), and the couples journey has just helped motivate them to always strive for better. Higher yields, and better quality that they are actually getting paid for.
Bolivia’s high altitude, the breath-taking nature, the coffee history, and the quality of the cup with its big and sweet taste profile makes it a very special place. Bolivia’s past is interesting—although it’s a commercially viable coffee exporting country, its production has always been small.
The conditions in Bolivia are exceptional for growing coffee, but also challenging, and this produces rich agriculture built on a long history of farming on very difficult terrain. In 1991, there was a government-led initiative to encourage the endogenous population to participate in coffee farming, which led to a fractured system counterintuitive to quality. The arrival of the Cup of Execellence Program in 2004 allowed buyers to find the quality coffee for which Bolivia was already known, but difficult to source.
The main problem for producers was (and, to some extent, still is) that they were unable to make enough money to be sustainable. To subsidise their income, they looked to other crops, mainly coca. Encouraged by the government, coca is four times more profitable and is much easier to grow than coffee, sadly this has led to coffee producers turning their back on coffee and abandoning their farms.
As if these difficulties weren’t enough to overcome, the arrival of leaf rust in 2013 meant that the country lost over 50% of its production that year alone. The combination of both government policy and leaf rust means that Bolivia’s coffee production has dropped by over 70 % in the last ten years, leaving the county a minor player in the world of coffee.
Over the past four years, we have been blessed to work with Agricafé. The quality, technology and profit for the producers are increasing every year.
You can read more about Bolivia as a coffee producing country in our blog post here.
Maruja and Nicolas are part of a sustainability project: Sol de Mañana, which is run by the Rodrigues family, whom is also our exporters in Bolivia. They give classes on how to create higher quality coffee, and less leaf rust. Maruja and Nicolas were one of the first five farmers that they started the project with, five years ago, and they have been a shiny example of how the project is helping improve quality, and quantity and preventing leaf rust with organic fertilizers.
The coffee is on a light to medium on the roasting scale, to enhance the natural flavour of the coffee. We are using a lot of energy in the curve to push out the fruity notes. In the caramelization phase we have stretched out the roast profile a little bit giving us a slightly longer curve in total to make sure the sweet flavours and creamy body that the coffee from the Colque's has, is being presented in the cup. As always we like the coffee as filter, espresso or any other brewing method.