A rare variety of single origin coffee from The Colombian Coffee Company
Often in London, it’s difficult to discern whether you’re getting good value. The city’s coffee culture is a case in point. Some places use their cool interiors and bearded baristas as cover for some pretty mundane coffee, while others invest skill, time and effort to provide something distinctive and different. Certainly, the precision with which The Colombian Coffee Company monitors each stage of the production process renders any question of validity redundant.
The story of the production of yellow caturra is truly humbling. Each aspect is treated with the care of a wine-maker who seeks a superlative vintage each harvest. For owner Eduardo Florez, this level of quality is non-negotiable. It shows in the way he runs his stall—and, more importantly for those seeking the perfect brew, it shows in the coffee.
Of the yellow caturra he is particularly proud. This rare variety of arabica coffee is named for its unusually yellow, rather than red, cherries. It’s as fussy as a pinot noir grape, but thrives in the potassium-rich soil of Planadas, central Colombia, where the altitude of 1,750ft and abundance of shade enable it to thrive.
A profound effect
“Not only does it have the perfect climate, it is one of the regions most affected by the conflict, so I love to work with the farmers there,” says Eduardo. “It has a profound effect on the community—equipping them with the skills to provide a very high quality product, and the knowledge to price it correctly. It’s a very important part of our project.”
The cherries are picked, by hand, only when they are perfectly ripe. “They are then passed through a machine to remove the skin, before being left in water for anything between 20 hours to a day and a half, so that the pulp naturally ferments,” Eduardo explains. “The bad cherries—those that have been eaten by a bird, for example, or are not perfectly ripe—will float to the top and are removed. This process is continued until each remaining bean is perfect.”
These beans are then spread under the beating rays of the Colombian sun to dry, before being sent to Eduardo in London for roasting. Naturally fairly acidic, the perfect roast has taken him weeks of trial and error: “When you roast coffee, there is a time where it will reach maximum acidity levels. If you continue to roast, that acidity reduces a little and sweetness will develop. The magic is to get the perfect equilibrium. Even 10 seconds makes a difference,” he explains. “When you get it right, it is a beautiful experience.”
Eye and smell
Everything is done by eye and smell—the only technology you’ll see on Eduardo’s coffee machine (affectionately known as ‘the old lady’) is a set of scales, and a timer. “Every time we make a drink, the baristas will measure the coffee and time it to a very precise recipe”—ensuring the perfect cup each time. “‘Bitter’ is a forbidden word here. If our baristas have any doubt, they throw the coffee away and start again.
“For me, it is best enjoyed as an espresso—but if you don’t want that level of punch, it also makes a perfect flat white. Why? Because the flat white originated in New Zealand, and there they have similarly lightly roasted, well-balanced, high quality coffee, so this style complements yellow caturra coffee well.” The result? “You get this very funky, sharp, fruity coffee with passionfruit acidity notes—it’s unlike anything else you’ve tried. You drink it and think, my god, this is perfect! That’s the magic of the yellow caturra.”