Decaf Colombia San Jose
Calm down…but for real. Calm down with delicious decaf from one of our favorite villages in Colombia, Inza. As a decaf, this coffee performs well as both an espresso and filter. Creamy mouthfeel tasting of vanilla and orange gives an almost creamsicle aftertaste. Once you have fallen in love with this coffee, be sure to check out our other offering from San Jose that's not decaffeinated. It's literally the same coffee but has not gone through the natural sugarcane processing that this coffee has.
Region: Cauca Inzá
Producer: Asorcafe Producer's Association
Process: Washed & Raised-bed Dried and EA Decaffeinated
Elevation: 1750 - 1900 meters
Variety: Caturra, Bourbon, Colombia, Typica
Cup: Vanilla, Red Apple, Cream, Citrus
Under the towering Nevado del Huila lies the village of Inzá, to the east the Paez river runs through the valley. It is here where many smallholders produce mainly Caturra variety coffee growing at a soaring 1900 MASL. Three villages make up the portion of this coffee, Pedregal, San Antonio, and the town of Inzá. Back in 2004, the small-holders that produce coffee in this region were tired of selling coffee at a very low price, (see the Coffee Crisis of 2001) prompting them to form Asorcafe, which provides aid to members through subsidies for education, job training, and healthcare.
Sugar cane ethyl acetate or commonly known as EA decaf is a natural process of decaffeinating coffee. It is usually found in Colombia where sugar cane is readily available and starts with making molasses from sugar cane. Once created it sits in vats to ferment. The bacteria creates acetic acid, much like fermenting coffee, and at the peak of fermentation, alcohol is added to make something called ethyl acetate.
For it to be applied to coffee first, the green coffee is steamed in tanks to elevate the moisture level. The beans swell which allows the extraction of caffeine. Ethyl acetate is added to the mixture, and it dissolves the caffeine in the coffee. The coffee is then washed with water and laid to dry. In theory, the coffee should reach the same moisture content as it arrived in, which is somewhere between 11-12%. The most important part of EA coffee, and why it tastes so sweet, is it avoids high pressure and high heat, which degrades coffee quickly. This allows the natural terroir flavors to come through, making it a sweet and bright decaf.
THE COFFEE CRISIS OF 2001
In September of 2001, the coffee commodity price hit $0.41/lb. The lowest it had been in 100 years, creating a real emergency in coffee-producing countries around the world. This dramatic price dip caused a crisis not just because it cut into producer's profit margins (which are frequently razor-thin) but because it passed this crucial threshold that is called the cost of production. The cost of production is a number that is contested and debated around the globe, and in reality, it differs pretty widely from region to region, producer to producer, and country to country. We have seen a range from $1.05 - $1.40 /lb, which given the .40 cent market price in the summer of 2001, puts the price of coffee well below what it takes for farmers to produce it. In short, farmers were losing a lot of money to grow coffee. Much of the world's coffee is grown by small-holder producers, people or families that own a small farm. They're particularly vulnerable to low prices due to their limited buying power and their limited access to financing. Something crucial for making investments in procuring fertilizer and other essential things which will improve crop quality for the following harvest.
When farmers can't invest in their farms, the effects snowball year after year. Lack of income leaves them open to things like leaf rust, a coffee tree disease which can decimate coffee farms and production. This oftentimes leads producers away from growing coffee and into food production like Hass avocados or bananas. Its effect can also drive the younger generation away from farming coffee, which drives the question; who will grow our coffee when the current generation of underpaid producers are gone?
One thing is certain; this generation of coffee drinkers have not felt the consequences of the 2001 price crisis. Coffee is as ubiquitous as ever, but with coffee commodity price around $1, the consolidation of farms and reduced production due to disease and climate change, that may not be the case for very long...