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Colombia - Huila - Supremo

January 2, 2006

The Huila growing area, along with Cauca and Nariño, is in the southwestern part of Colombia. These areas, and their sub-regions, are the source for the best Colombian coffees, which can have some vivid complexities to accompany the basic cup profile of all Colombian specialty coffee. However, the Colombian grading system is quite outdated. The titles "Supremo" and "Excelso," despite their impressive ring, do not denote cup quality, growing height, or bean density, rather they simply show the bean's size. So the Supremo designation for this Huila doesn't tell us much. It is for roasters to vet these lots carefully to separate the gold from the dross.

This is not a great coffee; but it is a lot of fun. Basic Colombian coffees have a milk chocolate and cherry profile, delicious, but not very challenging. The great ones have added elements and can develop the power and range of auction Kenyas. This Huila Supremo has complexities, but they are shifting and are never quite the same from one taste to the next. My guess is that the balance of flavor elements is very sensitive to roast and brewing temperatures. But whatever the reason, it makes for a fun game of "what will it taste like this time?"

In addition to milk chocolate and cherry notes, this coffee has prominent vegetal and smoky distillates, along with classic cup almonds and Granny Smith apple. These tastes shift around as the cup cools, and, quite frankly, they don't usually come together into a balanced whole. When they occasionally do, the cup goes from interesting to spectacular. This engaging behavior at light roasts is tamed somewhat when the coffee is taken to medium roast, at which point the cup becomes more conventional. At medium roasts, it also makes a very good SO espresso, where all the flavors get along a lot more amiably.

Dry fragrance: 3.5
Wet Aroma: 3.75
Flavor: 8.0
Finish: 7.0
Acidity: 7.0
Body: 8.0
TOTAL (subtotal + 50): 87.25

  • Lighter Roasts: Wildly shifting flavors; amusing and sometimes great
  • Darker Roasts: A solid cup with the added elements more subdued
  • As Espresso: Very good classic straight shot, lackluster in milk


UPDATED: January 2, 2007