All over South America the coffee cherries are ripening on the trees, the coffee picking troops are gathering and the processing stationsare in full swing! With all the movement, we at Zest couldn’t bear to miss out on the action! So, we’ve dropped 3 of our best into the beating heart of Colombian coffee country, to witness and work amongst some of the world’s mostprogressivefarms as they carry out their coffee harvest for 2022!

Landing in Bogotá last week, the first destination for Damon (head of training), Leo (head roaster) and Aryan (head of coffee), was the famous La Palma El Tucan farm located 2 hours out of the city. Many of you would remember the delicious micro-lot we enjoyed from this farm last year. It was a lactic fermentation lot with flavours of orange, pear, cherry and best of all, sparkling rosé! Well, there’s more coming our way!

The folk at La Palma El Tucan are not only wonderful hosts, with log cabin style accommodation perched high on the mountain side amongst thick tropical forest and coffee trees. They are ground-breaking pioneers in cultivating and processing coffee, producing some amazing award-winning lots while focusing on environmentally sustainable practices.

From here things got exciting with the recent eruption of a nearby volcano grounding all flights out of Bogotá. Our team had no other option but to travelfour hoursby road to their next destination, Forest Coffee. This would have been an easy alternative had the road not been labelled as one of the most dangerous in the country!

Luckily everyone arrived at Forest Coffee intact and since then, under the careful watch of Rocky (the resident watch dog), Damon, Leo and Aryan have been carrying out a new kind of coffee processing with a mould culture called Koji. Koji is a culture that is being added to the coffee cherries to ferment and grow on the cherries as they ferment for 24-72 hours before being transferred onto drying beds where the bacteria really start to thrive! You can even see it growing on the cherries after just 24 hours!

The main farm spearheading processing exploration for Forest Coffee, is El Vergel. Owned by brothers Elias and Shady, this farm is internationally renowned for its work using Koji mould culture, to bring out some extraordinary flavours in their coffee. Zest is indebted to these producers for their willingness to freely share their techniques and experience and to work together with our team to produce a number of our own special lots which we will be bringing back to share with our followers in Australia!

It’s been fantastic to follow our team as they head deeper into the heart of Colombian coffee! We can’t wait to update you with more stories and insights into innovative coffee processing! For now, we can start looking forward to tasting some fantastic coffees from these amazing farms!