Being many miles and many time zones away from those who grow our favourite coffees, it’s not often that the coffee community in Australia get to meet the farmers who tend to the coffee plants which produce the beans that go into our cups. Apart from the lucky few that get to go on trips to origin, most of us only get to hear about what it’s like to be on the coffee plantation second hand or via pictures that those who go bring back. On the night of Thursday, June 13, however, a select group of coffee industry figures and keen public enthusiasts got to meet a legendary coffee farmer face-to-face.
Invited by Colombian coffee aficionados Cofinet, Jairo Arcila was at Marrickville’s Roastville to meet those who had been extolling the virtues of his coffees to Sydneysiders for the past four years. The father of the Cofinet brothers, Felipe and Carlos, Jairo is known for his cultivation of specialty varietals in Colombia such as tabi, gesha and pink bourbon.
As Carlos explained on the night, this experimentation is a big shift from how coffee in Colombia was previously grown. Until 2014 it was against the law to not grow process coffee naturally and with a focus on high-yield, disease resistant varietals there was little to get excited about. Jairo, however, saw an alternative. While working for large exporter Racafe, Jairo began to experiment with different varietals and processing techniques on his farms such as Castellon. Now, retiring from Racafe, Jairo is ready to experiment further, and we cannot wait to taste the results.
Honouring the work of such a dedicated and forward thinking farmer, on the night attendees had the chance to cup two of these experimental beans. Castillo Black Honey and Castillo Natural were cupped on the night, roasted by a select group of Cofinet’s roasting partners and were judged by those who were present on the night. Four judges, Fay Kamanis, roasting operations and green bean buyer at Padre Coffee, Lloyd Thom green bean buyer at Campos, Takumi Sakamoto of Deluca Coffee —recently announced winner of the Australian Roasting Championship — and Jake Elliot of Five Senses were given clipboard for the official judging.
As attendees circled Roastville’s large central table, slurping and spitting, the flavours and aromas of Jairo’s coffee were appreciated once again.