Like so many other delicious fruits and vegetables, coffee is a seasonal crop. And while we purchase large enough volumes of most of our coffees to last us an entire year (until the next crop arrives), we also purchase smaller, extra-special and limited coffees to feature in our Apex Series. "Apex" means "top" or "peak"--and that's what these coffees truly are: top quality, distinctive coffees that are as fleeting as they are delicious. They are truly seasonal offerings, as we get them soon after they've been harvested and processed at origin, and we feature them until the volume runs out.
For that reason, you might have noticed that our Apex lineup often includes more than one coffee from the same origin--because fresh coffees from one region usually come in around the same time. Sometimes these are single-farmer microlots or coffees that have been processed differently, resulting in unique flavor profiles. Right now we're featuring three exceptional Colombian coffees in the Apex Series.
The Cosurca cooperative is located in the Southern Colombian Macizo mountains, in the center and south of the region of Cauca. Founded in 1993, Cosurca's objective is to further the economic development of a region that was largely cut off from the rest of the country due to civil war and political violence. As a fundamental tenet of its philosophy of economic development, Cosurca strives to be as inclusive as possible by engaging ethnic minority groups and women in the different projects it implements in its communities. Producers Elizabet Garzón, Kevit Perafán, & Walter Zúñiga of the Cosurca cooperative contributed to our Apex Cosurca offering this year, a juicy cup with notes of apricot and toffee.
Then we have Orgánica, located inland of Colombia's southwestern coast, and composed of a tightly knit group of 104 friends and neighbors. The members of Orgánica value unity, transparency, democracy, and quality, and they hold two main priorities: 1) to improve the quality of life for their families; and 2) to improve the quality of their coffee. Our current Apex offering from Organica comes from farms affected by climate variation during the last growing season, which suffered with low production. The 15 families who made this coffee possible live in the municipalities of Tambo, Timbío and Piendamó in Cauca. This coffee contains a mix of Caturra and Colombia plant varieties, with delicious floral fragrances and delicate creamy flavors, notes of honey and cane sugar, and a medium acidity.
Our longest-standing relationship is with Fondo Paez, founded in 1992. Fondo Paez' primary goal is to recuperate traditional agricultural knowledge and indigenous culture which had been buried by centuries of conflict and oppression. Located in the remote, highland regions of Cauca, the Paez (who also call themselves Nasa, or “the people”) is the largest indigenous group in Colombia.
We began importing from Fondo Paez via Cooperative Coffees in 2004. We are inspired to see the extent to which Fondo Paez has created a sustainable vision for their indigenous communities. This is remarkable in and of itself, but the work and successes of this organization are truly extraordinary when viewed within the context of Colombian politics and globalization. From Spanish conquest centuries ago to the armed conflict raging in their territory for the past 40 years, the Paez people continue to struggle for their lives and livelihoods, their land, and their rights to self-determination.
Fondo Paez' coffee used to have a home in Higher Grounds' Signature Series, because we were able to purchase large quantities to keep the product available year-round. However, Fondo Paez has faced some big challenges in the past few years. Many of their member farmers have left the cooperative in favor of producing coca (sadly, they can usually make more money in the illicit drug trade), and Fondo's organic and quality requirements are stringent. They are now paying their farmers more in an effort to retain them, meaning that we also are paying a higher price for Fondo's coffee, which has continued to increase in quality over the years. The combination of both lower volumes available and the higher price, as well as the exceptional quality of the product, has meant that Fondo Paez has now moved into our Apex Series. The current roast is mellow, buttery, and balanced, reminiscent of shortbread and chamomile with a sugared grapefruit acidity.
We are loving these fresh Colombian offerings and hope that you are too!