The village of Aponte is located in the Department of Narino in the southwest region of Colombia. The Pacific Ocean lies to the west and Ecuador to the south. It is one of the highest regions in the Colombian Andes Mountains, peaking at 2400masl. The Galeras volcano in the region remains active, covering the area in ash and minerals. Narino grows and produces some of the highest quality coffee in the country and constituted more than half of the 2018 Cup of Excellence coffees.
Aponte is populated by the indigenous Inga people. They are descendants of the northernmost Inca tribesman. The Inga speak a dialect of the Kichwa language native to southern Colombia, Ecuador, and parts of Peru. Land is still held communally and governed by a group of elders known as the cabildo. In recent history the Inga have experienced financial hardship and violence as a result of the prominence of illicit activities in the region. Coffee farming provides an alternative to lucrative but illegal coca farming. After the peace accord with FARC in 2016, the Colombian government began to offer subsidies to farmers that would switch from Coca to Coffee.
A majority of Colombia’s coffee is washed, but recently there has been more experimentation with alternative processing methods. This coffee was depulped and dried with mucilage on the seed. Drying the seed this way increases the sweet and fruity flavors of the coffee. This represents the honey processing style. Washed coffees would be fermented in tanks in order to remove the mucilage from the outside of the seed. By avoiding fermentation, a large amount of water waste is avoided.
When roasting this coffee, we tried to accentuate the sweetness that comes from the honey processing and highlight the acidity that developed from being grown high in the Andes. Using the Ikawa sample roaster, we tested two profiles – one faster roast and one slower. The coffee performed well under both circumstances with the first having more tart and juicy flavors, and the second being more sweet and mellow. We chose a middle route that would yield a coffee with vibrant acidity balanced with body and sweetness. We charged the drum slightly cooler and hit first crack at 8:30 and achieved a light roast with 22% development.
This coffee performed exceptionally well as espresso. Our recipe was an 18g dose yielding 41g in 28 seconds. We achieved 20.1% extraction with 8.83% TDS. The resulting espresso was very sweet with notes of caramel, apple, and clove. It would do well as a blend component or on its own, and with or without milk.
For manual brewing, this coffee is best suited for a V60 or aeropress. The coffee is syrupy and sweet with subtle fruit notes. Brew devices with thinner filters will allow it to shine.
Colombia Aponte Honey is available for purchase here.