Producer: Los Rodriguez
Harvest: July – October
Notes: Strawberry, honey fig, aged rum
Bolivia is land-locked country that has excellent regions for growing coffee thanks to its high elevations, biodiversity and tropical climate. The west of the country where the capital La Paz is located, is a major region for coffee cultivation due to its mountainous topography with some of the highest peaks of the Andes Mountain range.
Bolivia was producing close to 85,000 sacks in the 2000s but tragically, coffee leaf rust decimated a large number of coffee farms. Less than a decade later, Bolivia’s export had dropped to 23,000 sacks and only a small portion is sold as specialty-grade. The reasons for this are multiple but the main one was the coffee rust that hit the coffee regions very hard. After this loss for many coffee producers, the government allowed the production of coca in some districts, and many decided to switch from coffee growing since coca is far more profitable per hectare than coffee.
Although Bolivia produces far less coffee than its neighbouring countries, it continues to produce some spectacular coffees with very interesting flavour profiles. Thanks to the efforts of training in good agronomic practices, processing and recent national competitions, Bolivia is back in the limelight and is increasingly being recognised as a country of excellence for coffee cultivation.
Finca El Arcangel is a 10 hectare farm owned by the Rodriquez family and is located in the lush highland forests where the Bolinda community live, just outside of the town of Caranavi – known as Bolivia’s ‘capital of coffee’. This is where the famous Death Road that follows the Andes Mountains from the dry Altiplano plain to the lush green forests of the Amazon jungle.
El Arcángel was planted in 2015 and had its first harvest in 2017. One of the special aspects of this young coffee farm is that both red and red and yellow Caturras were grown separately from the other varieties so that the distinctive qualities of each are preserved. The farm gets its name from a large and majestic tree that sits at the highest point of the farm appearing to observe the land from on high, resembling the protector archangel.
After the coffee cherries have been sun-dried to an optimum moisture content of 12%, the coffee is bagged and sent to the dry mill in La Paz. Once the coffee parchment has been removed the coffee is checked to see if the moisture content is within range and cupped for sensory analysis. The coffee is then rested before being sent to export through the Arica port of Chile.
We always love to taste coffees from Bolivia as they are rare and this coffee jumped off the table when we first tasted it! Due to its high density and screen size, the coffee needs a high-energy roast for filter to bring out the complexity in the cup. This coffee has great character, complex but structured, sweet and good-bodied with lots of aromatics and an enduring aftertaste.