Bolivia Finca El Fuerte Natural Petites & Peaberries
Tinned strawberries, pink fondant icing, Parma Violets
Finca El Fuerte was named in honour of the 'Fort of Samaipata', which is a unique ruin in Bolivia. El Fuerte de Samaipata (Fort Samaipata), also known simply as 'El Fuerte', is a pre-Columbian archaeological site. It's unique in that it represents the legacies of Inca, Spanish and Chanè cultures, and it's one of Samaipata's main attractions. Situated in the eastern foothills of the Bolivian Andes, in the Santa Cruz department of Florida province, the archaeological site is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
El Fuerte was a first experiment in developing coffee in a region with excellent characteristics for producing amazing quality coffee (good soil conditions and high altitude), but which traditionally produced small amounts of coffee and no specialty coffee. After consulting with a specialised agronomist, the region of Agua Rica at the edge of the Amboró National Park was chosen as the ideal location. The region is some 20 KM east of Samaipata.
Initially, several different varietals were tried. The varietals included Red Bourbon, and Yellow and Red Caturra – although nowadays Agricafe (which runs the farm) has ventured into growing other varietals. Caturra and Typica (both are traditionally grown in Bolivia) are commonly seen, but alongside other slightly rarer varietals like Java and Geisha – and the peaberries and petites that we see in this coffee, of course! Although there is little need for shade trees because the altitude keeps the temperature down, trees were planted to protect the coffee trees from the strong winds that are common in the region.
The decision to plant coffee at El Fuerte was something of a risk, but it's one that has undoubtedly paid off. The location has proved to be strategic and the weather is ideal; so much so that a second wet mill will soon be established at the site. Once it is, all coffee produced in the Samaipata farms will be processed at El Fuerte.
We cupped this Natural process lot from El Fuerte blind and absolutely loved it. That lot was called 'Caracol', which translates from Spanish as 'Snail'. If you take a look at one of these little curled-over beans, you'll see a bit of resemblance to a snail shell – so you can see where the name came from!
However, take a closer look at this coffee, and you'll see it's not just peaberries in there; there are other small beans, which we've called 'petites'. One of the things about seeing peaberries to separate them is that they're smaller than other beans, but when you separate them for a lot like this you also get some regular beans mixed in that are just a bit smaller than average. Try looking out for peaberries in the other petite lots we'll be stocking in the coming year!
In the cup this is a juicy coffee. It makes me think of tinned strawberries and pink fondant icing – it's sweet and sticky. Then, on the finish, there's a shoulder of Parma Violets.
- Country: Bolivia
- Province: Florida
- Department: Santa Cruz
- Farm: Finca El Fuerte
- Altitude: 1,550–1,700 m.a.s.l.
- Variety: Petites and Peaberries
- Process: Natural
Tinned strawberries, pink fondant icing, Parma Violets.
Clean cup (1–8): 7
Sweetness (1–8): 8
Acidity (1–8): 7
Mouthfeel (1–8): 6
Flavour (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste (1–8): 6
Balance (1–8): 6
Overall (1–8): 6.5
Correction (+36): +36
Total: (max. 100): 89
Medium – this one will run quickly, so slow it a little to avoid scorching the smaller beans, then drop as it approaches second.