For someone in the coffee buyer line of work-a cupping is always the right answer.
Today was to be just that; a display of coffees from a number of the people and places we had just visited.
Sunshine and blue skies greet me as I pop out to meet the embrace of La Paz and it’s rarefied air this morning.
Breakfast is skipped to ensure that I am my most sharp or put another way “A lion hunts best when he is hungry.”
Our gracious host Jorge Valverde of Invalsa brings us “su casa” to cup. His offices, lab and home are all one and the same, part of a lovely structure that has been in the family for a long, long time, like 100+ years long time. Hidden behind a wall on the oldest street in La Paz is an Oasis, and the best part? It is all original! The room we’re in is huge and gorgeous with frescoes on the wall dating from the ‘20s, ceilings pushing 24 feet and a wood beam floor. Everything has a patina and has been burnished with the passing of time.
I love it here!
Three tables of ten samples each consume our attention and direct our conversation for the balance of the morning. There are a number of coffees in the notable 84+ scoring category, which always adds a spark to the proceedings. There are also a number that it is suggested, need a bit more rest before they are able to fully rise to their potential.
We’ll see if there is anything for us to bring in this year. Nothing was put to bed on this visit.
The “Micro-Lotes” (said in a Spanish accent) fever has caught on since the first COE (Cup of Excellence) circus came to town years ago. The premium price associated with smaller, farmer ID lots is undeniable and with a country that produces a mere drop in the bucket of world production (est. 60 000 bags) the choice of specialization is arguably a wise one and a great point of differentiation. If only coffee wasn’t a volume game which it has been, is and most likely will continue to be for some time to come.
There was passionate discussion of where to go from here and the fate of Bolivian coffee. Only time will tell what will become of this small, currently overshadowed origin with reams of untapped potential.
My own previously tepid opinion of Bolivian coffee has required an update and I am truly hopeful for what part this origin could play for us at a critical part of the year.
The trip finishes with hasty goodbyes and a final crossing of the threshold into the belly of a Boeing 757 for the long, unglamorous ride in steerage home.
Thank-you for reading and should there be a next time-until then.