Advent - EU 🇪🇺

Week 1

🇨🇴 Colombia La Esperanza

Roaster: The Picky Chemist from Belgium 🇧🇪
Producer: Wilder Lasso
Region: San Adolfo, Acevedo, Huila
Variety: Pink Bourbon
Processing: Honey
Altitude: 1500 - 1900 masl
Tasting notes: rosemary, black tea, bergamot
SCA score: 87+
Harvest: May - July 2023

About the farm:

When Segundo Lasso (father) arrived at the farm for the first time, he went to manage it. The coffee that was there was very old, especially Caturra and Arabica, it was very abandoned. The coffee was not productive, he spent many days working very hard to recover it, he got up early every day to clean it, fertilize it, take care of it as if it were his own. The house was very small and very old with plank floors, there was no road, the horse was the means of transportation for everything. After four years of having the farm in company with the owner of the farm, he offered it to him but Segundo had no budget. His boss trusted him a lot and knew how honest he was, so she offered him good financing. Nowadays his children Leidy, Wilder and Heiner, are the ones in charge of the whole process, as crop, cupping and commercialisation.

About the processing:

Specification: The total time for fermentation is 84h. The initial fermented is for 48 hours in an open non submerged system, after that the coffee is submerged and fermented for additional 36hr. When the fermentation is finished the coffee is de-pulped and then dried.

Drying: Sun drying system for 20 days. The first 3 days the coffee is moved every 4 hours, this helps to have a more even drying of the coffee.

Sorting: The ripest cherries are picked and then the coffee is floated to remove the less dense cherries. Then the coffee is selected one more time at the milling.

Stabilisation: After the ideal humidity is reached the coffee is packed in GrainPro and sisal bags, and store at the farm for at least 15 days.

About the selection:
Comments by Dawid

Long requested roaster is finally part of the Mystery Coffee League. When we decided to go for a multi roaster edition of the Advent Calendar, Stephane was the first roaster approached by me. I shared the MCAC theme with him during the summer, and he did a great job, sourcing a really unique coffee for us. Based on your reviews on the chat, it was a great coffee to kick-off this year's edition. Now you can start guessing the theme!

Week 2

🇨🇴 Colombia El Vergel Queen

Roaster: Sheep and Raven from Poland 🇵🇱
Producer: Elias and Shady Bayter
Region: Tolima
Variety: Geisha
Processing: CM Natural
Altitude: 1550 masl
Tasting notes: raspberry, lychee, peach
SCA score: 91+
Harvest: Summer 2023

About the farm and coffee:

Vergel was primarily a vegetable farm prior to entering the coffee world. Around ten years ago Elias expressed interest in segregating a portion of their farm to try and grow coffee. Interestingly enough somehow Elias got his hands on some incredibly unique coffee saplings.

Now world-renowned for their koji application onto both natural and washed processes the two brothers started a new company called Forest coffee which also invests heavily in their surrounding farms. Teaching others to process their coffee with new techniques as well as bring their coffees to the international market.

This coffee is one of El Vergel's jewels, it was developed based on a crazy experiment thought by Martha, the mother of the Bayter brothers, and there comes the name "Queen Gesha", and not only because of the essence of the process itself but by the characteristics developed through this new process which has come to create a unique floral profile with an intense blue and purple type of flavours.

About the processing:

This coffee was put through a Carbonic Maceration of 96 hours, and submerged in water to control even more the temperature, which helped the coffee develop more towards the floral and delicate flavours of Gesha. After the fermentation was done, the coffee was dried at a particular micro-lot dryer at El Vergel, which works with shallow temperatures (28 to 32 celsius degrees) and that has to be moved manually 3 to 5 times a day.

About the selection:
Comments by Dawid

Quite a few things going on here, but all of them have a one thing in common - competition. Firstly, this coffee was sourced by World Barista Champion Aga Rojewska and roasted by World Coffee Roasting Champion Felix Teiretzbacher. Second of all, this is the most expensive coffee in the whole set and one which truly can be called a competition style coffee. Queen Gesha is used all around the world in both Brewers and Barista champs every year. This particular lot was shipped from Colombia to Europe last September - it's the freshest as you can get.

Why Queen? I remember a lot of people liking this particular lot roasted by Manhattan in the last two years. Some of you even called it one of the best coffees ever. I think it's a good example of highly processed coffee which can still taste good (even for clean processing lovers) without being overwhelming. Definitely tricky to brew but once you got it right with low PPM water and faster brew times (at around 2 minutes), Colombian Gesha natty flavours were definitely there.

Sheep and Raven is also a new roaster for Mystery Coffee League. I hope you liked it, and we will be able to invite them back next year. The main focus of this project is competition style coffee, which is a perfect fit for 2024 season.

Week 3

🇸🇻 El Salvador Los Pirineos

Roaster: Banibeans from Slovenia 🇸🇮
Variety: Konka (Ethiopian Heirloom)
Processing: Anaerobic Washed
Altitude: 1400-1500 masl
Tasting notes: peach, honey, jasmine
Harvest: 2023

About the farm and coffee:

Found in the Usulután department of El Salvador, Los Pirineos farm is operated by fifth-generation coffee producer Diego Baraona. Diego took the helm at the farm in 2020 following his father’s passing and now works to carry on the tradition and legacy of not only his father Gilberto, but the more than 130 years of experience, history, and knowledge that his family has in coffee cultivation.

The farm sits 1400 meters above sea level on the slopes of a stand-alone volcano. This unique positioning provides a microclimate unlike any other with sun-filled days and cool breezes, creating an environment ideal for coffee production, processing, and drying. This climate is capitalized on especially well in the drying area of the farm where raised drying beds are positioned between two peaks, creating a wind tunnel through which a breeze constantly flows.

Konka is a heirloom from Yirgacheffe, simply meaning it’s a previously unknown heirloom variety from Ethiopia. It's one of the varieties they have been maturing in the nursery at Los Pirineos. The trees are planted 1500 masl in a place of loam soil clayey, it has adapted to the microclimate and terroir in Usulutan. 

About the processing:

This lot of Konka coffee underwent Anaerobic Washed processing. After harvest, ripe cherries are placed into sealed barrels where they are fermented for 72 hours. The fermented coffee is then pulped with water before being spread onto shaded, raised drying beds. The washed coffee was dried for 45 days to reach its ideal humidity.

About the selection:
Comments by Dawid

Yet another coffee from the hype farm. One of the favorite Tim Wendelboe's farms to be exact. The same coffee was included in his subscription last year as limited release. This year Los Pirineos had a bigger Konka harvest, so also other importers managed to get their hands on this particular lot. Actually, Timmy planted exactly the same Konka seeds on his farm. I think the limited lots of Ethiopian Heirloom coffee which he was selling are actually exactly the same coffee - but obviously grown in Colombia. The cleanest coffee from El Salvador I've ever had. If you find some spare time, make sure to listen to the Wendelboe's podcast episode with Diego from Los Pirineos.

Week 4

🇲🇽 Mexico Finca Chelín

Roaster: Banibeans from Slovenia 🇸🇮
Variety: Geisha
Processing: Black Honey
Altitude: 1600 masl
Tasting notes: apricot, grapefruit, hazelnut (creamy)
Harvest: 2023

About the farm and coffee:

Found in the Usulután department of El Salvador, Los Pirineos farm is operated by fifth-generation coffee producer Diego Baraona. Diego took the helm at the farm in 2020
Enrique López Aguilar talks about his life as a farmer: “Coffee growing began in 1910 in Candelaria Loxicha in Oaxaca. Over time, my parents, Jaime and Graciela, bought farms in Chiapas and from there began another story of coffee growing. In 2000, when my father died, I went to the farms to learn how to grow choice coffee and took a year to learn how to harvest coffee. I knew nothing and didn’t even drink it, I was 33 years old at the time and I started reading a lot of books about coffee, its history and how it was processed in different parts of the world. I learned that you can do a lot of things in fermentation, and I went on to work on the Santa Cruz and Las Nubes farms and became a Q Grader. I have won many competitions for best organic coffee and several Cup of Excellence awards. In 2012 I left the farms in Chiapas and decided to start my own farm in Oaxaca, specifically in Candelaria, where my mother is from. Since then, I have been focusing only on the production of select coffees in micro-lot.”

We visit Enriquen and Alejandro every year during the harvest. The farm is very simply set up, because during the harvest the whole farm is fully focused on the coffee and everything else goes on the back burner.Alejandro roasts the samples during the harvest so they have complete control over the processes, and in fact the coffee is tasted in many forms all day long. For cupping, for espresso, for filter. Enrique says that if we want to know what the coffee really tastes like, cupping is not enough because very few end clients will actually taste these coffees on the cupping. And the only thing that matters here is the taste of the end customer. So you need to taste each lot on both the espresso and the filter.After a difficult and highly controlled harvest and long drying processes, the Lopezes dedicate themselves to farmer education and courses for other producers. In this way, they have been instrumental in improving and expanding the knowledge of the processing of fine coffees in Mexico.Enrique is known throughout Mexico as a great visionary of choice coffee and we are endlessly honoured to work with him and that Enrique has chosen us as one of his few importers.At the beginning was an abandoned farmhouse, which Enrique bought and began to renovate. Gradually, he began to plant varieties that he already knew were of very high quality and that, with proper care of the soil, would become tolerant and resistant to rust. The flavors that emerge in the coffees are citrus and floral, thanks to the processes by which the coffee is processed and fermented on the farm. It develops new flavors, but without losing the original and basic flavors. Above all, at the Chelín farm, the focus is on purity in the aftertaste. 

“The advantage of the farm is that on a small scale I am copying everything I learned in Chiapas and I have more control over the production of so-called pure coffee. 
Enrique adds that the farm is not yet reaching full production, but thanks to good nutrition and good work, it is close to the production he expects. We worked with Enrique for the 2022 Barista World Championship and the way Enrique grows the coffee and continues to communicate with clients is very professional. His coffee is truly unique and the intricate processing process matches that.

About the selection:
Comments by Dawid

One of the most hyped farmers on the server in 2023, mainly by UK folks. Probably the best you can get in Mexico. Chelin is getting more popular in Europe, with more and more importers getting their hands on their greens. I decided it would be a good addition to the advent calendar.

There's only so much you can do with limited budget, which already was quite high for many people. In the end, you got 4 rare coffees for 65€. When you calculate the costs based on retail prices of these beans you will see that 65€ just covers the cost of coffee. So the price excludes costs of all extras, logistics and extra labor. I can see that some people are probably a little bit disappointed because coffees didn't exactly fit their taste, or they were just fine, but it is impossible to get 4 coffees of the Week 2 caliber in the set. We will see about next year, I feel like 4x100g formula is a little bit burned out by now. Maybe it's time for something new.