As we start 2023 in the depths of our UK winter it’s warming to think about what is happening on the coffee farms around the world and anticipate all the great coffees coming our way.
Coffee is now being picked in Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Some of the farms will be in full harvest by now, and others will be welcoming seasonal workers and training them on the farm systems and new equipment. Coffee picked and processed over the next couple of months will be ready to ship to us in our spring and will be on our counter as soon as we have the space. We’re excited to hear how Oscar Junior at La Esperanza (Costa Rica) is getting on, in what will be his second harvest for export. Santa Catalina (Guatemala) will be at the beginning of their harvest season; the farm will be abuzz with people and the beneficio humming with coffee cherry being pulped and washed – it’s an exciting time to be on the farm.
In Huila (Colombia), Ethiopia, and Kenya the harvest is starting to taper down. At the higher grown farms like La Piragua, the cherry is fully ripe and being picked, with the earlier pickings already processed and drying on patios, screens, and rooftops. In Huila we will be finalising our container for milling, grading, and shipping at the end of this month. You will recall we couldn’t hold our Colombian Lo Mejor competitions during the covid times, this crop from Huila is our first time back. Keep an eye out for these coffees arriving onto our counter in summer along with more information about the competitions.
Farms in Bolivia, Brazil and Peru are in their post-harvest tidy up phase. Most of the coffee coming from these countries has been shipped and is on its way onto our counters. Fazenda Irmãs Pereira is first up from Brazil, and we are expecting Finca Don Carlos (Bolivia) at the end of January, and El Morito (Peru) in the spring. Post-crop tidy-up sounds like a bit of a come down after the full flush of the harvest, but it is an important time. Farmers will go through the trees, implementing their pruning and feeding schedules and plan for the start of the next crop in around six months.
In Nariño, Colombia, we are at the opposite timings of the Huila crop. The coffee trees are in a growth phase and farmers like María Fanny Guerrero Cañar at La Perla del Valle will be spreading fertilizer and keeping an anxious eye on the weather to try to determine when the flowering will likely start. The flowering is a farmer’s best indication of the strength and timing of the coming crop. It’s a great time also to prepare the micro-beneficios and carry out maintenance. The processing facilities will have been cleaned down and assessed at the end of the last crop and the work required for any improvements will be done now. Fermentation tanks for washed process coffees usually need broken tiles replaced and patios often need resurfacing where water accumulates and causes damage.
Here at the roastery we are coming out of our Christmas coma and reminding ourselves of that 2023 to-do list we created when we had a glass of wine or two at the end of the year and anything seemed possible. Outside of preparing for the upcoming harvest from Central America there are quite a few things on the list!
We are coming up to our 45th year of buying, roasting, and retailing coffee. Not much has changed in that time – we still want the best we can find, we want to pay good money for it, we want to roast it well and sell it with our heart on our sleeves. So, here’s to 2023, one foot in front of the other for the tricky times ahead of us all, and may all your coffee be just as you like it best.