Colombian Los Idolos from San Augustin, Huila has been a favourite of ours since 2007 when we first tasted it. Not to mention it is an amazing coffee with intense aromatics. Moreover, it was our first Fair Trade coffee too. A certification that they have decided to not renew, as they found it unhelpful.
Colombia and Coffee
Often Colombian coffee is just categorise by size and sold as Supermo and Excelso. To this end coffee produced here is generally grown on large estates north of the Andes, where the country is flatter.
In the south the Madeline river winds through the Colombian Andes. It is here the complexity of the coffee improves. In contrast to the north, farmers normally have around 3 hectares is size and family run.
If you ask coffee lovers in the know, they normally will list Colombia and Ethiopia as the countries most variety in flavours of coffee.
History of San Agustín
Around three centuries ago the pre-Colombian civilisation known today as “San Agustin” flourished in the mountains where the Magdalena River is born. This culture was characterised by imposing monolithic sculptures and tombs created on hilltops throughout the region.
Although the civilisation mysteriously disappeared, their burial sites being re-discovered in the 1960’s by a group of explorers, led by the local inhabitants. Among the better known sites discovered was “El Alto de Los Idolos”, a group of several burial sites atop a hill dating back to the 1st century BC.
Colombian Los Idolos from San Augustin, Huila
Near to “El Alto de Los Idolos” sixty-four small coffee growers gathered together under the banner of “Grupo Asociativo San Agustin Los Cauchos”, to form a coffee growers co-operative in 2001. By getting together the growers could secure a higher income through the sale of high-quality coffee. Because of its symbolism the name Los Idolos™ was chosen as a way of honouring the region’s ancestral origins.
Since inception their focus on standardising practices, improving their beneficios (allocations) and drying patios. As a result small increases in quality have affected each crop. This process has spurred member’s commitment, increasing pride in each small achievement and knowing that every improvement is a step forward towards better and better coffee.
Since 2002, the members of Los Cauchos eliminated all their illicit crops. Above all they had and committed to producing high-quality coffee instead. Thanks to Caravela’s continuous feedback about their cup quality, the members of Los Cauchos have gradually increased the quality of their coffee. Importantly obtaining premiums between 35% and 50% above the internal market price. In fact the increased income has helped them invest in improving their infrastructure and their quality of life.
Members of Los Cauchos are seen as a light of hope for smallholder farmers of this beautiful and once prosperous region. Now being a focalised point of potential development, which is legal and sustainable over the long-term.
Video of Los Idolos contributor
When we visited we shot this video of the one contributors farm:
Details of the coffee:
Colombian Los Idolos from San Augustin, Huila is a medium acidity coffee. Add to that a delightful caramel-like sweetness, toffee and caramel flavours, with lots of orange and mandarin notes. Furthermore, the after-taste is a malty and refreshing.
|Region:||Vereda Los Cauchos, Municipality of San Agustin, Department of Huila, Colombia|
|Processing:||Wet-processed, solar dried on patios with raised and covered beds|
|Cultivar:||Arabica / Cattura and Typica|
|Growing Conditions:||Semi-shade grown in highland areas.|
|Altitude grown:||1,600 – 1,900 meters above sea level|
|Characteristics:||4 star complexity with fruit, caramel sweetness and spice with a medium body|
|Roast:||What we nickname a bump and a kick. Medium charge with intense heat to start. Followed by moderate heat to flatten the ramp rate, browning. Finishing with intense heat and a medium development in first crack.|
|Cupping score||84.5-85.5 (seasonal variances, this is the min and max)|
|Logistics||Cost ZA19.48 / kg. Coffee was included in a consolidated seasonal order of Colombian coffees.|
|Producer / Organisation||Caravela / Los Cauchos|
|Typical lot size bought||8 x 35kg boxes, twice a year|
|Relationship||Our relationship with Caravela goes back to 2008.|