Episode Two Bolivia Machacamarca BV 2007-2008 14th October 2008

The legend is back. This is a huge, huge coffee, one of our most important and one of my all time favourites. This is a world exclusive coffee, we buy everything from this farm, and we are the only ever buyer of this coffee. It has become the coffee I think we can be judged by, and this year judge away.

Machacamarca de Berenguela is an old farm in Sud Yungas, Bolivia, that has belonged to the Andrade family for over 150 years. Its more than 100 hectares are located on top of a small mountain, looking out towards the high snowy peaks of the Andes as well as the rugged foothills that spill onto the tropical plains of the Beni. The adobe walls of the old farmhouse are a meter thick, and the ancient chapel (with a resident ghost) plus its belfry with heavy bronze bells crowns an open and serene landscape.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Machacamarca was a traditional coca-leaf producer, but in the middle of the last century Victor Andrade drastically altered the productive scenario by planting groves of citrus fruit and various forest tree species. Coffee, however, was always present “for home and family”. Grandmother Maria, daughter and grand old lady of this land, did not conceive “store-bought” coffee, preferring to personally roast and grind her coffee in a small wooden mill each morning in order to have her coffee “as God meant it to be”.

Towards the end of the 1990′s, with the precipitous drop in the citrus market and a problem with the citrus trees, the cultivation of coffee was expanded in earnest by planting varieties known for their quality and resistance in the shade of tall “siquili” trees, favored by hummingbirds and honeybees. Slowly the Andrade family has sought to improve its product, convinced that superior-quality coffee is one of the answers to the environmental drama of the Yungas valleys, seriously threatened by indiscriminate cutting-down of the forest and the proliferation of coca-leaf plantations.

We first stocked this coffee from the 2007 Cup of Excellence lot, and it very quickly became my favourite of that year. It also proved to be one of your overall favourites regardless of its Cup of Excellence price premium. This is now the third year of building on this relationship, culminating in me spending the week in July 2010 living with the family, picking the coffee and helping with processing. It was one of the most stunning weeks of my life, and the hospitality of Mario and Maria was amazing.

This coffee needs its own scoring system. It is one of the most complete, rounded and balanced coffees I have ever tasted. Sweetness of caramel and chocolate, mixed with a white grape acidity that adds acidity to more sweetness, then the big body, smooth aftertaste that lingers into milk chocolate. It’s as close to my perfect cup as I have found. Add to a milk based drink and it turns into a big doughnut full of sweet caramel.

Farm: Machacamarca BV

Farmer: Maria and Mario Nina Lupe del Rosario Andrade

City: Chulumani

Region: Sud-Yungas

Country: Bolivia

Farm Size: 67.00 Hectares

Coffee growing area: 5.00 Hectares

Altitude: 1790 masl

Variety: Criollo (80%), Caturra (20%)

Type of Soil: Clay

Average Annual Rainfall: 1,790 mm

Type of Shade: Hardwoods, citrus

Weeding: Twice per year

Pruning: Sanitary pruning

Processing System: On-site wet processing, solar drying

Comments

  • 18 October 2008, 3:10 pm

    This is great Steve – gives a superb insight into the business – the photos work very well :-) Agree about a Mic – a little wooly, but perfectly manageable.

  • 20 October 2008, 10:11 am

    Big G says:

    This without doubt the best and most diverse single estate we have tried anywhere. We love it that much we use it in the shop as one of our speciality coffees. What I must add to Steve’s commentary is this coffee has ability to master all formats. We serve is freshly ground as double shot espresso double shot latte and French press. Occasionally someone asks for double shot Americano. Without doubt one of the most diverse and stunning coffees we have ever tasted. At £6 a bag it’s the deal of the century. As we use this every day in espresso form I must point out it is not the easiest to grind and tamp. I’ve found about 15-16g, ground a touch finer with a strong tamp works for me (3.5 grind set and 4 time set on the K30 if that helps). If you love this try Brazil Cachoeira Canario Dried on Screen 2007-2008 crop and Guatemala Finca San Francisco Tecuamburro two other super hero coffees.

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