This is the 2021 Harvest from Hugo Melo, who we have committed to buying regularly from. Last year we purchased his entire lot, and we did the same this time as well. While much of his coffee was used as part of a "regional blend," this Caturra varietal was sold separately and we snatched it up.
When asked what Hugo wanted you all to know about his coffee and his farm - he said, “the whole family makes a living on coffee- we’ve worked in it all of our lives, we work hard, and we like it. The idea is to make something good that buyers and consumers like, that they enjoy the product. We work for that every day, always looking to improve, and to offer something better. Everything we do with coffee, we do with love. We don’t make a living from something other than coffee- it’s just this, coffee.”
We really love this coffee and hope you do too. This year his coffee is tasting very Kenyan-esque in that it is full bodied and has lots of red fruit sweetness but also a really nice spiciness to it. It reminds us of stewed plums, baked red delicious apples and has a nice strawberry sweetness in the finish.
Hugo's farm is located in a remote part of Huila in Colombia, that has soils high in organic matter, good rainfall, lots of shade trees and old varietals. Our importer has been purchasing coffee from Hugo and his family (who also own farms on the same mountain) for years and have even given them interest free loans to help them purchase equipment (repaid not with cash, but in coffee over the course of several harvests), and even given them tools and scientific equipment.to help them grow better coffee. In addition, they pay money right to Hugo as soon as they receive the coffee, in local currency which is a huge help. It's a great relationship that we are happy to be apart of, even if indirectly.
Hugo puts a ton of effort processing all his coffee, by hand; this selection underwent a 5 stage process to bring out lots of sweetness and body while still being elegant and refined. All the cherries are picked, and then left in plastic bags to ferment overnight. They are de-pulped and then put into sealed pickle barrels with some muselage left on, in a low-oxygen environment for 36 hours. The beans are then washed and left to drain in nylon bags, before being slowly dried in shade.
Price paid to farmer: $1.65 USD per pound
+ 25% Market Price
+ 36% Local Price
But those percentages don't tell the whole story. This price is the Farm Gate Price, meaning our importer paid this amount directly to the farmer, picking up the coffee at the "gate" to their farm and took care of milling the coffee and transporting it to the port. When coffee is typically purchased, the price you see listed doesn't all go to the farmer; often the mill, exporters and transportation companies will get paid first, cover their costs and then the money will get back to the farmer, often months later. Shared Source pays them immediately on receipt of the parchment (green coffee before it is milled).
There isn't always a lot of transparency about where the money goes, but often a farmer may only receive 50-75% of the price paid for a coffee after everyone else gets their share. If this coffee had been purchased using conventional methods, its cost would have been around $2.06 -$3.30 per pound US and would be close to three times above the C-Market price. This is assuming in order for the farmer to get the same amount. In all likelihood the priced would be lower and they just wouldn't get as much.
We paid $4.00 USD per pound landed price to get it to the US.
$11.35/kg- our price paid forthe coffee (CAD)
$1.03/kg - import, shipping and freight to Vancouver
$5.45/kg- labour to store, roast, package and quality control
$2.24 - packaging costs
$20.33 TOTAL COST PER KG
We then apply our standard mark up for all coffees.
Farmers who mill or process their own coffee cherries are often able to hold onto more of the money and get a higher price (they get the money that would normally go to a mill), but it's often a financial investment on their part to purchase all the equipment.
We also believe that whenever possible, it's important for roasters to buy from a farmer year after year, building relationships, but to also buy more than just a couple bags from them to provide financial security. We loved this coffee so much, that we bought every bag that Shared Source had. We are looking forward to continuing to work with Hugo in the years to come.
A note on roast dates:
Contrary to most coffee myths (based off old information), it's best not to use coffee that is too fresh. For espresso, we recommend using coffee between three days to four weeks old, while filter and drip coffee it's best if the beans are three weeks to twelve weeks from the date of roasting. We offer the option to select coffee that we have set aside to let rest so it's ready to go when you order it (recommended if you plan on using it for drip or filter coffee, while for espresso it's better to order the standard option). Subject to availability.