This week, we're shining the spotlight on our newest Colombian coffee, Colombia Select Nariño.
Colombia is a large country and has several very different coffee growing regions. Our favorite is Huila in south central Colombia. Coffee from Huila has typical Colombian richness brightened by lively citrus and other fruit notes. A great example of a Colombia Huila is our Colombia San Agustin.
Last week, we called to reorder another of our favorite Huilas, Colombia Gran Galope. Unfortunately, the importer had sold out and was waiting for the next shipment. Gran Galope won't be available until next month.
Before I could get too disappointed, the importer told me about an exciting new program they have for Colombian coffees. It's called Regional Select. Coffee buyers go to Colombia and search for coffee from each region that exemplify what's best about that region's coffee. We already have a great example of Colombia Huila, so I asked about other regions. The importer suggested I try their Regional Select from Nariño.
Nariño makes up the southwest corner of Colombia, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and Ecuador to the south. The geography is what makes this coffee so interesting. The terrain is rugged, with steep slopes and deep valleys. Over them all tower the Andes mountains. Because the ocean is so near, warm, humid air collects in the valleys during the day and rises up the mountains at night. The combination allows coffee to grow at a very high altitude, up to 7500 ft above sea level. The higher the altitude, the slower the coffee beans grow and the denser and more flavorful they become. Coffee quality improves so much with altitude, that coffee grown at 4000 ft. or more above sea level are labeled “high grown” and command premium prices. We were curious what an extra 3500 ft would mean for the quality of this coffee.
In addition to being very high altitude, the mountains of Nariño have soil very similar to the soil in neighboring Ecuador. This made us wonder if the flavor of their coffees might also be similar. We had to try some.
Boy, are we glad we did! Colombia Select Nariño is silky smooth and sugar cane sweet, with solid caramel richness brightened by lively apple and grapefruit notes. Grown so high, this coffee takes any roast level extremely well. Roast it light (City roast level), and the tart fruit flavors sparkle. A medium roast level (Full City or Vienna) heightens the coffee's smooth mouthfeel and the notes of rich, buttery caramel. If you prefer your coffee dark (Northern Italian to French roast levels), Colombia Select Nariño just gets sweeter and bolder the darker you go.
Thanks to the marketing campaign featuring Juan Valdez and his little donkey, most Americans realize Colombia grows some great coffee. Do you have a favorite? Please share your thoughts on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your opinion with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!
~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast