The Lab

Coffee Analysis: Colombia Huila La Suiza

Huila is one of the largest coffee producing Departments in Colombia and it produces some of the highest quality coffee in the world. It is located in Western Colombia with the Magdalena river running through its center. The central and oriental cordilleras run along the northwestern and southeastern sides of the department, respectively.

Don Hector (left)

This particular offering comes from Hector Arcadio Zuñiga who has been producing coffee for over 25 years. Don Hector purchased La Suiza about 12 years ago when the farm covered only 4 hectares. Since then, he has been acquiring the adjacent land and today it is over 15 hectares! Don Hector’s total coffeelands cover about 45 hectares and produce 4-5 containers of coffee per year.

Hector focuses heavily on quality and efficiency. In order to improve efficiency and reduce costs, the farm has been outfitted with equipment to transport the coffee without much labor. Turbines and metal pipes lift and push the coffee through the various processing areas. Cherry, wet coffee, and dry parchment is rotated through the farm and into bags, minimizing the need for staff. Labor is becoming increasingly expensive and hard to find for coffee production in Colombia. This represented a large up-front investment but maintains the viability of the farm into the future.

Don Hector built out a cupping lab in his house to assure all of his coffees are the correct quality. In previous years, not being able to cup regularly has lead to quality concerns and cost the operation money. By cupping constantly, he can control the quality of his lots meticulously. The common theme with Hector is the importance of making investments in the future to make sure La Suiza is around for a long time.

La Suiza

La Suiza is relatively dense with relatively low moisture. This coffee will roast fast since there is little moisture to absorb the heat, and heat will be transferred quickly to the center. It is important to watch the heat application and taper it relatively quickly to allow enough time for browning reactions to occur. Our roast hit first crack at 8:15 and ended with 19.6% development. The goal was to roast with enough time for mailllard reactions and caramelization to occur, but keep light enough to preserve acidity. The resulting coffee was intensely sweet. On the cupping table the coffee tasted of graham cracker and red apple.

Dialing in we stretched the ratio to 1:2.5 with an 18g dose. We reached 20.34% extraction and 7.68% TDS. The espresso tasted of cocoa, walnuts, and red apples. For future roasts, we think a longer development time and higher end temperature would produce a coffee with heavier body and darker chocolate tones making an even more delicious espresso.

Coffee from La Suiza is currently available from Royal NY, please contact a trader for more information.

Patrick McKeown

Patrick began his coffee journey on Long Island at a small coffee bar and roasting at home. Since then he has been a barista, manager, and craft roaster in NYC.