This coffee is an amazing representation of the work that the young Jhoan Vergara does. His farm has been in the family for several generations, and sits just above the main town in the region, Pitalito. You can see from the photos that this is a coffee growing region, but when you visit Las Flores, you see the progressive nature of Jhoan. From more modern varieties and advanced processing, to the tight-knit team and great farming practices, you see the passion and dedication to specialty coffee.
This lot is from his Java plants, which is a variety that grows really well at the high altitude of Las Flores. Jhoan has around 3500 trees planted, which he's in the process of currently pruning every second row to give a better growth and production in the coming years. The typical cup profile of Java is very delicate and floral, but thanks to advancements in processing, Jhoan pushes the profile of the classic Java into greater intensity and sweetness.
First, ripe cherries are picked, and allowed to "oxidise" for 36 hours in cherry. They are then sorted and floated before being depulped. The depulped coffee is taken straight away into plastic grainpro bags to ferment anaerobically for 60 hours. This step gives most of the intensity and flavours to the Java, making it more lively and sweet.
The last step Jhoan does before drying is a "thermal shock" step. During this step, he takes the coffee in parchment, and submerges in 60 degree water for 20 minutes, before being plunged back in cold water for a few minutes. This step is critical to the Java's clarity and intensity - in this case, the thermal shock step is used as a "pasturising" sort of process, so that when the coffee is transported and dried, there is no fermentation. The idea is that it stops the processing clean, and locks in flavours.
It's then sent to dry in special drying machines which steadily decrease the humidity and water activity over 2 days. This is also an important step, as it allows them to process more coffee with higher quality, and the drying is super controlled, and gives them a great cup profile, with long shelf life.
We visited Las Flores in November 2023, and were amazed at the work, and the friendly energy that Jhoan has. It was a pleasure for him to show us around the farm, and let us into his processing techniques, and try more of his coffee.