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Cenicafe Visit

lab

Cenicafe Visit, March 2013
Darrin Daniel, Green Coffee Buyer

I’m in Pereira, Colombia (a one hour flight west from Bogota) for the 2013 Cup of Excellence. This northern region of Colombia is home to thousands of coffee growers, as well as one of the most prestigious coffee research organizations around the world: Cenicafe. Yesterday afternoon I was lucky enough to tour their research facility, participate in a variety cupping of two new experimental varieties along with their Tabi (a cross between Typica, Bourbon and Timor Hybrid) and the well known Castillo variety (a cross of Caturra and Timor Hybrid). After the cupping we went to Naranjal Central Station located in Chinchiná Caldas, which has a large variety garden focusing primarily on research of Castillo.

As luck would have it, heavy lightning and rain did not allow us out to head into the field, but we enjoyed an excellent presentation about the work done on Castillo. For those who don’t know, the Castillo variety was developed out of research dating back to 1968 and was originally known as Colombia. In 2005, it was renamed in honor of the head researcher, Dr. Jaime Castillo, after he spent many years on trials and progenies to find the right size, production, resistance to leaf rust, volume and cup quality.

The presentation addressed the specifics of trials, results from different research stations and even the hybridization process of taking pollen from the male Timor Hybrid and supplanting it onto the Caturra female flower in order to get the next generation. After the progenies F3, F4 and F5 began to show their effectiveness in 2005, it was renamed. Many questions followed about why Caturra was chosen, how can cup quality be improved and is Cenicafe trying other varieties to pair with the Timor Hybrid. It was clear there are many research projects that are in the works and once conclusive data is defined, Cenicafe will most likely be introducing new disease resistant strains that hopefully will have even better cup qualities than what we know today of Castillo. Though many buyers feel Castillo to be inferior to Bourbon and Typica, even my own tasting of Tabi proved to be pretty bright and sweet. On our way back in a thunderous storm we stopped to briefly look at some of their Ethiopian heirloom varieties in the experimental gardens (which we know to be resistant to leaf rust).

plant

Cenicafe is one of the most celebrated coffee experimental labs in the world and in many ways the future of coffee belongs to their bright and talented scientists and researchers. I’d put a bet down that those Ethiopia varieties will birth something we can all talk about and hopefully embrace as the future of specialty coffee.