On Chemex: Colombia El Cairo / by Steve Willingham

This morning we're breaking into a new coffee roasted by George Howell Coffee from a farm called El Cairo. We're tasting notes of vanilla and spices with a little passion fruit on the finish, and it is delicious.

This coffee is grown by Lucas Melo Pinchao in Nariño, Colombia. Pinchao has owned El Cairo for twenty years, and has benefited from having a farm with an elevation as high as 7,500 meters above sea level in some places. In specialty coffee, we usually see a correlation: the higher the elevation, the sweeter the coffee. This coffee is no exception.

El Cairo is also a good example of specialty coffee transcending the usual labels of organic and fair trade. Pinchao doesn't have either certification, but he does grow all his coffee using strict organic practices and is paid very well for his work due to the demand for coffee of this quality.

Now for the really fun fact. This coffee was harvested in July 2015. Normally, we wouldn't want a coffee that old because it would start to lose its acidity and start to taste lackluster. However, George Howell does things a little differently:

We treat these coffees specially, from export to storage before roasting to guarantee farm-fresh expressions of terroir – the first thing lost when green (raw) coffee ages. We vacuum seal green coffee and then freeze until ready for roasting. This stops the aging process in its tracks, allowing great vintages to outlast their seasonality in all their glory – great for the farmer and for the consumer!

Come try out this coffee on the Chemex bar today or tomorrow.