The new Bolivia La Paz micro-lot has rich nutty, praline notes that fill your entire mouth with a creamy mouthfeel. It is similar to some of our favorite Brazilian coffees, but the body sits on your palate in a different way. The body is like fresh homemade caramel chews that dissolve in your mouth. (My son, Max, just made these treats for our family!) We sourced this coffee from Cafe Kreyol, the awesome coffee company that found the Colombia Castillo Cauca “Cocaine for Coffee” and the Haiti Blue Mountain. Joseph Stazzone, the owner of Cafe Kreyol, shared the following history of this coffee:
With the help of a Bolivian family that Cafe Kreyol met in Massachusetts, we have brought back a Bolivian Coffee that is nearing extinction in the current market. After a trip there to set up a Direct Trade relationship- let us share with you what happened. Bolivia is the poorest country in Latin America, and is land-locked in the middle of South America. The west of the country, where the capital city, La Paz, and also the coffee growing region is located, is very mountainous, containing the highest peaks of the Andes Mountains, which run all the way along the entire continent of South America. The population in western Bolivia is majority native South American people, with the most common languages and ethnic groups being the Quechua (the language of the Inca Empire) and the Aymara. Most of the coffee farmers that we work with are Aymara Bolivians who moved during the 1980s and ’90s from the very high, desert-like areas (Altiplano) around La Paz, to the more tropical Caranavi area, which is about five hours’ drive north of La Paz. The Caranavi province is where 90% of Bolivian coffee is grown. In order to get from La Paz to Caranavi, you have to drive on the “Most Dangerous Road in the World”, which is indeed extremely dangerous, although scenic. To obtain this coffee we had to drive to and from Caranavi on this road many times, especially during coffee season. A good name for the coffee perhaps is “The most dangerous road in the world”. Almost all coffee in Bolivia is grown by small family farms that do not have the capacity to grow the minimum commercial international shipment. Not so in Brazil, the world’s largest coffee producer. Because we do our own exporting, we keep coffees separated by grower and grade at origin until we complete a container. Our farmers appreciate our approach and actively seek us out when they have an exceptional crop. Exceptional (cupping scores above 85 points) coffees are kept separate and bagged in 15-kilo vacuum-packed foil bags, or hermetically sealed, GrainPro bags inside a burlap bag, at origin before exporting them to the US. Such exceptional coffees are sold as micro-lots. Traditional coffee exporters mix together coffees from several growers until a container is filled, where the quality becomes the lowest common denominator. We believe ours is a better way to supply quality green coffee beans. Our vacuum-packed green coffee, when opened, still has the fresh, nutty and flowery aroma that it had when it was bagged in-country.
Most of our growers have participated and won awards at the Cup of Excellence competitions, which are internationally judged. We have growers that have placed in the top ten places, some obtaining scores above 90, earning the prestigious and rare Presidential Award rating –a top world-class rating, indeed! We are attaching pictures from some of their celebrations below which we have attended. Unfortunately COE is not longer held in Bolivia due to govt restraints and since then, the Bolivian coffee market has completely crashed. When working with the cooperatives, indigenous enterprises or coffee estates we sign long term contracts detailing the quality and quantity of the coffee to be purchased. We pay above-market prices (also above Fair Trade minimums) for quality coffees, so farmers and cooperatives seek us out. We also provide pre-shipment financing to assist farmers and cooperatives that cannot access traditional banking channels.
You will definitely want to brew this coffee as an espresso, pourover, French Press, and aeropress.