Tim Wendelboe is the consummate coffee professional: he's the 2004 World Barista Champion; we're partners with his eponymous and internationally renowned coffee roaster in Oslo, Norway; and he's the author of one of the most accessible, comprehensive books out there on preparing and enjoying quality coffee.
Over the last few years, his namesake roastery has been putting in serious work on improving the coffee quality at a coffee farm called Finca Tamana in Colombia. Mr. Wendelboe has been documenting this process on his blog, and he just released a brand new book to tell the story in a beautiful, engaging way. We reached out to Mr. Wendelboe to learn more about the new book.
Sprudge: Where did the idea behind this book come from?
Tim Wendelboe: I originally wanted to make a nice brochure about the coffee we buy from Finca Tamana, but I realized there was just too much information and nice pictures for me to leave any behind.
We have been working very closely with the farmer Elias Roa, and we wanted to share that with our customers and other farmers and people who are interested in coffee. Although I have written a lot about this project on our blog, I realized that not everyone reads our blog, so we decided to make a compressed version of the blog posts and publish it as a book. That way we can hopefully reach a broader audience.
I also wanted to make a gift to our wholesale customers that they could keep in their stores for their customers to read about what we do and how much work we put in to the coffees we buy along with the farmer. Hopefully this will help people understand that transparency and paying more for coffee is important.
Why did you choose to work with this farm? What makes it so special?
I am the first to admit that the coffee from Finca Tamana is not the best you can get from Colombia. I really prefer the coffees from the Narino and Cauca growing regions more.
However, the average size of a farm in Narino is less than 1 hectare, meaning we would have difficulties getting any useful volume of coffee unless we worked with a big group of farmers. Working with a group of farmers is far more difficult than working with one farmer, and politically Narino is not the easiest place to work in many ways. Hopefully we will be able to work there in the future.
We chose to work with Finca Tamana specifically first and foremost because of Mr. Roa. He is a very trustworthy person, he wants to progress, and he is willing to invest time and effort to make sure our ideas are put in to life.
We just pre-financed USD $20,000 before the last harvest in order to make sure Mr. Roa could pay his pickers. I would never do that if I did not trust him 100%. He also had just bought the 63 hectare Finca Tamana, situated next to a farm I used to buy coffee from, so I knew the potential was there. The opportunity and timing were perfect.
We are working on perfecting the processing at the farm and next year we will start researching fertilizers and their impact on quality. I believe we can improve the flavour of the coffee a lot just by correcting the fertilizers applied. We are also planting new cultivars that hopefully will improve flavor even more.
Which publisher did you choose to work with on this book?
We actually payed for everything ourselves this time, so the publisher is now Tim Wendelboe.
What kind of book would you like to write next?
I don't know, I don't really have time to write books these days but maybe I will get inspired one day…
What were your 3 favorites coffees of 2013?
I have four, ranked in order:
- A mix of heirloom cultivar from Mr. Olke Bire in Ethiopia. A single farmer coffee from Yirgacheffe that I bought through Nordic Approach.
- Finca Nacimiento from Honduras, a Bourbon cultivar picked in April this year. Mr. Jobneel Caceres Dios' coffees were outstanding this year and it was his first year drying his coffees on raised beds under shade.
- The Geisha cultivar from Finca El Puente's Marysabel Caballero and Moises Herrera. Although I just cupped a sample while in Honduras, this has been by far the best Geisha cultivar I have ever tasted. Candied papaya, tangerine, honey and jasmine. A fantastic coffee that was all sold to Stumptown this year, unfortunately for me.
- The Castillo cultivar [an Arabica/Robusta hybrid] from Taro Suzuki's farm in Inza, in the Cauca district of Colombia. It cupped better than his Geisha from the same farm. A really floral and intense cup profile. It blew people's minds at the Nordic Roaster forum in Iceland this year.
Order your copy of “Finca Tamana” by Tim Wendelboe here.