Welcome to Neiva, Department of Huila, Colombia.

I’ve landed in Neiva, Colombia as part of my never ending quest to find the best coffees the world has to offer. You might remember, or have tried coffees, from other Central / South American competitions PTs participated in earlier this year or last.

In the fall of 05’ I was in Colombia for the 2nd annual CoE competition. Then In March and April I was on the jury for Best of Costa Rica coffee competition and the Best of Panama coffee competition. A month or so later, Jayson headed to El Salvador to participate in the El Salvador CoE coffee competition. It’s been a busy year for your roasters at PTs, but we’ve got some outstanding coffees again this year that I’m confident you’ll want to try.

As a part of my trip to Colombia this year, I will be a part of the 4th Colombian Coffee Cup of Excellence competition which is taking place in this ancient city of Nieva (pronounced: Nay-Bah). This will be my second year to participate on the jury for Colombian coffee. Last year’s trip lead to the purchase of Finca El Palacio which finished 4th in the 2005 competition. But it’s a new year and a new crop so we will see what Colombia has to offer in 2006.

Colombia is the third most bio-diverse country on earth, trailing only Brazil and Indonesia. This bio-diversity leads to some outstanding coffees that can range wildly in flavor. Some with deep, rich chocolate and cherry notes. Others with a light, citric or fruity sweetness. Regardless, in the past five year, Colombian coffee producers have made huge strides in quality improvement. Many producers have abandoned the old “Colombian Variety” tree in favor of Bourbon or Catura variety’s. Producing a much richer, sweeter cleaner flavor and aroma and less bitterness.

Colombia is located on the northwest corner of South America. Bordered by Panama, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil and Venezuela and is roughly the size of Portugal, Spain and France all together. With a population of 44 Million, of which, 2.5 million are dependent on the coffee industry.

There are officially 19 growing regions. We have always purchased our Colombian coffee from one of the three regions. Narino (Reserva del Patron), which is the southern most growing region. Huila (Finca El Palacio) and Cauca which are directly to the East and North of the Narino region or department as they are referred to in Colombia. Similar to states in the US.
Of all the incredibly diverse growing regions found in Colombia, we’ve found these three to be of a special character based on climate, soil, elevation and annual rainfall.

I don’t know what to expect from this years competition, but I will not at all be surprised if the winner is once again from one of these three regions. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say that I think the winner will be from Huila. But honestly, it’s a guess. All three of these regions have the capacity to produce outstanding coffee.

I’ll try to post as often as time allows and we’ll see how it all turns out.

Cheers from South America

Jeff