Arnulfo Leguizamo’s Finca La Primavera: The Coffee That Won USBC

Parisi Coffee’s Pete Licata is your 2013 United States Barista Champion. But no man is an island, and in the world of specialty coffee, there are many hands that touch each moment of success, from that lovely shot in your neighborhood cafe to the routine that won the USBC. Our friends & partners at Cafe Imports were intimately involved in this year’s USBC finals, having sourced not one, not two, but three (!) of the coffees used by competitors on Finals Sunday. This includes the coffee that won it all for Pete Licata: producer Arnulfo Leguizamo’s Finca La Primavera, harvested in Fall 2012.

Mr. Leguizamo is a member of Associacion Los Naranjos (English translation here), a 40-family cooperative located in the famed Huila Department of southwestern Colombia. Los Naranjos is currently an immensely popular coffee in North American craft roasting circles: our “Colombiana” cupping party last year included Naranjos submissions from Handsome Coffee Roasters, Ceremony Coffee Roasters, Populace Coffee, and Moonshine Coffee Company. This is just a partial list of the fine roasters who have roasted or are currently roasting coffees from Associacion Los Naranjos.

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While contributing to Associacion Los Naranjos as a partner producer, Mr. Leguizamo is also actively separating microlots on his land in Huila. He owns two farms: Finca Faldon and Finca Primavera, located mere “blocks” from each other in the hills near the town of San Agustin. A lot from Finca Faldon outright won the 2011 Colombia Cup of Excellence, and was purchased by a buying team including Cafe Imports, George Howell Coffee, Mecca Espresso, and Robert Kao & Co. LTD (Taiwan). Here’s the COE jury’s tasting notes from Mr. Leguizamo’s COE-winning lot:

Jasmine, tamarind, apricot, wild honey, lime blossom, cherries, vanilla, sugar browning, elderberry blossom, vibrant, red fruits, floral, wine, caramel, floral, bergamot, lemongrass, lychee, raisins, tea-like, kaffir lime, tea rose, tropical fruits, passion fruit acidity, stone fruit, white peach, effervescent, creamy lingering, syrupy, notably sweet from beginning to end, persistent.

Cut to a few years later, where in Pete Licata’s hands coffee from Arnulfo Leguizamo’s Finca Primavera yielded flavors of “a full-bodied red wine, like a Zinfandel,” with a sterling “green grape acidity and a deep, heavy sweetness.” This coffee is 100% Caturra, and was wet fermented for 15-20 hours, dried in retractable drying beds, sometimes for 10 days or more. For an in-depth look at coffee culture and growing conditions in this beautiful part of Colombia, spend time with “In The Land of Birds and Trees“, a feature on the Cafe Imports website from back in August of 2011.

Sprudge.com had a chance to speak directly with Andrew Miller, President & Founder of Cafe Imports, about his company’s ongoing relationship with Arnulfo Leguizamo and Associacion Los Naranjos:

We started buying coffees from Associacion Los Naranjos all the way back in 2004 – it was COE winner back then, which meant a lot of added attention. In the 2011 COE competition, I was one of the judges, and Mr. Leguizamo fielded the winning coffee – I had a chance to meet him for the first time that night. I went back to San Agustin later that year, in the summertime, to meet with the group – we go down a couple times a year to meet with them, say “thank you so much for the coffee”, take pictures, and get set up to buy coffees for the following year. I met with Arnulfo in a bar and we discussed microlot purchasing directly from his farm. It was exciting, because when we agreed on a price – around $8 a pound – he told me, “With this money I want to take my kids to the beach, they’ve never seen it. And I want to buy a truck.” Before that he’d been shipping coffee on the bus!

We’d been sitting together in the bar, and I said to Arnulfo, do you want me to write something up? A contract? And he looked at me and said “Look at me. I’m a serious man. I have a mustache.” So sometimes a mustache supercedes contracts. [Laughs.]

All 40 members of the cooperative have WiFi access supported by Cafe Imports, which is part of the program we have with Los Naranjos. We pay them a premium if their coffees score above a certain amount of points, and all the extra cash goes back to the people, which they’re using to send their children to college.

Congratulations to Arnulfo Leguizamo for producing some of the best coffee in the world!

– Andrew Miller

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Multimedia throughout this piece by Noah Namowicz.