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Colombia - Cauca - Juan Tama Coffee

August 30, 2009

This will be a combined review, both of us having received samples. For a description of Bob and Jim's evaluation procedure, see our reference page.

Juan Tama is an association of around 1,800 indigenous and afro-indian farmers in the rugged Tierradentro region of Cauca. It is backed by the EU and the Colombian government and produces certified organic coffees which it sells roasted and green via its web site at

The quality of high end Colombian coffees has skyrocketed as alternatives to the older supply chain have emerged. Auction, direct trade and microlot coffees from Colombia have, in the last few years, been some of the best in the world. On the sorting table, the lot we received from Juan Tama seems to fall into this high end category. The beans were not screened in the usual way for size, but were instead sorted for a complete absence of defective, deformed and immature beans. It is a "zero-defect" lot, similar to what one sees in auction and micro-lot coffees. The association will be selling the coffee in an innovative way, direct from the producer via the web; and it will be interesting to see if they can maintain this extraordinarily high level of coffee preparation as they gear up.

Bob's Review:
In the cup, this coffee is quintessential Colombian with finely tuned acidity balanced against a sweet, almost creamy body and a medium long finish. It is a mild, well balanced coffee, very slightly earthy with citrus and mango providing the high end over a toast and semi-sweet chocolate base.

Just out of curiosity, I took a darker roast and combined it with the lighter cupping roast for a trial of brewed coffees. It was excellent! I don't usually enjoy "melange" blends but this was an exception. The complexity of each roast was complimentary in the cup. It was delicious in all three brewed drinks that I tried; drip, French press and vacuum-brewed.

Jim's Review:
The painstaking sort is reflected in the extraordinarily high cup quality of the coffee. The sweetness jumps out first; the coffee smells of caramel, and tastes sweet from beginning to end, hot to cool. The taste, at first blush, is typical crowd pleasing Colombian: caramel, almonds with discreet hints of peat and tobacco. But there is also an exotic hint of vanilla and fresh loam that adds some interest. The acidity and body are medium. While the taste profile is not particularly complex, it is such a pleasurable cup that it merits its 90 rating.

At lighter roasts, the espressos and cappuccinos were solid and well balanced, but lacked distinctness. A second crack roast that emphasizes the distillates will add interest to the small cup.


Bobs Score
Dry Fragrance: 4.2
Wet Aroma: 4.3
Flavor: 8.0
Finish: 7.6
Acidity: 7.8
Body: 7.8
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 89.7

Jim's Score

Dry fragrance: 4.4
Wet Aroma: 4.3
Flavor: 8.8
Finish: 8.3
Acidity: 7.2
Body: 7.8
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 90.8

  • Lighter Roasts: Very balanced and sweet, vanilla and toasted almond notes.
  • Darker Roasts: Peat and tobacco more prominent. Not too deep into the 2nd.
  • As Espresso: Go for the distillates; use a 2nd crack roast.


UPDATED: August 30, 2009