Many of his peers thought Camilo was certifiably crazy when he began his Santuario farm project outside Popayán, Colombia in 1999. At that time, the coffee market was at an all-time low and many farmers around the world were abandoning coffee for other crops. But Santuario was not just another farm.
It was designed with tremendous specificity and detail, using every available resource to create a modern farm custom-built to produce exceptional quality coffees in a biologically diverse, sustainable environment. The coffees it produced were indeed special; the Heliconias Bourbons and Mirador Typicas were delicious examples of what those cultivars were capable of, and the Geishas were otherworldly.
Yet the best was still to come. The Santuario farm included an experimental garden planted with 26 different coffee cultivars that Camilo obtained from a research center in Colombia. He cultivated them out of curiosity and kept an eye on them for over a decade to see how they would behave. We often cupped them together, and after several years of repeat-tasting a handful of them emerged as stars with mouthwatering potential. In early 2011, one decade after his first crop at Santuario, Camilo decided to take another step forward.
With good friends the Holguin Family, who had an interest in coffee and some uncultivated land in Pichinde, just outside of Cali, Camilo began embarking on a new project that would build upon everything he’d learned in the ten years of running Santuario. Café Inmaculada was born, and this time there would be even more investment towards creating an ideal farm that spared no expense in pursuit of excellence.
The location is near perfect, with rich soils and an abundance of both sun and rainfall, an elevation that ranges from 1,740-2,040 meters and a dramatic range of daily temperatures that is in large part due to the cool air that blows in each evening from the Pacific.
A legendary coffee variety that originated on the Boma Plateau, located in southeastern Sudan near to the Ethiopian border. This area belongs to a region considered to be the birthplace of the Arabica species. Sudan Rume has long been used by plant breeders as a source of ‘quality’ genes, but is rarely planted because it doesn’t produce large yields.
Laurina, a.k.a. Bourbon Pointu, comes from Réunion Island just off the coast of Madagascar. It is the direct descendent of the trees responsible for seeding most of Latin America, and was all but forgotten for most of the 20th century. Laurina is thought to be an early mutation from the Typica variety and is now considered the ‘original’ Bourbon. It has the distinction of being extremely low in caffeine.
This is a spontaneous wild cross of Maragogype and Geisha that occurred in the Santuario farm outside of Popayán, where trees of the two varieties were growing next to one another. It does not exist anywhere else, and this lot is the first to have ever been harvested.
Welcome to my Table, here in the corner of Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago, Illinois. Today we’re sipping the coffees included in their Cafe Inmaculada Collection. Feel free to pull up a chair.
region: Valle de Cauca, Colombia
farm: Cafe Inmaculada
producer(s): Merizalde and Holguin Families
elevation: 1780 meters above sea level
cultivar(s): Sudan Rume // Laurina // Maragesh
process: fully washed, patio dried
The aroma was very sweet–sugar cookies and white chocolate dominate. The body was full and juicy, with notes of caramel and cranberry complicated by that green, vegetal quality, with a clean finish.
full body; juicy body; citrus acidity; clean finish
For a coffee that’s so close to being considered a “decaf” coffee, the cup is surprisingly flavorful, bright, and juicy. Sweet scents of cocoa and cherry lead to a coffee that is filled with vanilla, cherry, sugar cookie, and a tangy blood orange acidity.
light body; juicy mouthfeel; citrus acidity; clean finish.
The presence of Gesha always indicates powerful floral aromas and bright, tropical fruit notes, especially in the aroma. In the cup, the tropical fruit notes played off of a sweet chocolate note that dominated as the cup cooled. The interplay was surprising, but made the cup feel muddied at times.
medium body; lightly syrupy mouthfeel; lime acidity; clean finish.
about the author:
Greg Loring-Albright is curious about coffee.
This curiosity has led him to drink, serve, roast, and educate about specialty coffee here in Chicago, where he lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood.
He is currently a barista educator at Bowtruss Coffee Roasters in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.
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