Colombia — Ají
previously known as /024
One of the rarest coffee kinds to recently become accessible is the subject one of our first 2023 releases, Ají.
For some this is also known as the Bourbon Ají, though it has been discovered to not be a bourbon variety.
The Ají variety is genetically distinct from ancestor seeds carried to the Americas centuries ago and specialists are still unaware of its origin, it is a relatively recent discovery in the world of coffee. It is thought that it is a newly discovered Ethiopian Landrace not found in many accessions.
The variety Ají is distinguished by the variety’s distinctively mildly spicy pepper character, which is followed as it cools by red fruit flavors and mild floral undertones, creating a unique and distinctive cup. We’ve found these spicy notes to be closer to rosehip, VOC spices or even mild sechuan.
The producer, Javier, has been involved with the coffee world for his entire life. His parents and grandparents have practically always been coffee pickers and have always lived in Bruselas, Huila. Being a picker is a very taxing job; Javier soon got bored of working that way and got more thrilled about the idea of being a producer himself. He learned how grow coffee trees and to process coffee by traveling to different regions in Colombia to learn. After many years of labor, he finally managed to save up enough money to go back to the farm where he was raised and plant his own coffee plants.
He convinced his dad and brother to be partners and they started planting robusta coffees. Over time they realised that the domestic robusta market is a very unfair market for the producer and so they began to learn more about specialty coffee. That’s how they changed all their stock to Pink Bourbon. It was a variety that, due to the elevation of the farm, 1800 meters above sea level, had a great harvest. After about 3 years of producing Pink Bourbon, their neighbour José Salazar told them that he had found a new variety, that coffee left a mild spicy sensation in the mouth called “Bourbon Ají”; Javier decided to buy the seeds and started planting his very own Aji.
Sidenote: In 2020, José entered one of his coffees in Colombia’s Cup of Excellence competition for the first time, and was awarded 17th place for a selection of his Pink Bourbon. In 2021, he decided to enter a different, somewhat mysterious variety that he had come to refer to as “Bourbon Ají” after noticing that the coffee cherries harvested from these particular trees had an aroma reminiscent of hot chili peppers (“ají” means “chili” in Spanish).
However, as mentioned before genetic testing indicated that this variety is not a bourbon at all, but rather, a little known Ethiopian landrace, José Salazar’s Cup of Excellence submission certainly wowed the competition judges and his coffee was ultimately awarded 6th place in the 2021 competition with a cup score of 89.32.
The cherries were processed by 24 hours of fermentation in Grain Pro bags before pulping. After this the pulped beans are fermented for 70 hours in tanks. After this the coffee was dried in their dryer for 12 hours after washing and further dried on raised beds in their greenhouse.
This is a unique coffee, but we’ve found it a tricky one to find the sweet spot. An aroma that is toffee like and that of freshly baked pastries. A true spectrum of fruit notes from orange to cranberry to cherry.
It has amazing complexity, where, if you find the sweet spot, it has a very clear nectarine note. It has a tingling sensation in the aftertaste and flavour that also rosehip has and quite pronounced spice notes that are subtle and that of cinnamon.