Adventures at Origin: Head of Coffee Will’s Spring 2019 Trip to Colombia

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“Head of Coffee” might sound like a grand title for someone sitting around sipping espresso all day… and that’s not entirely inaccurate! But a lot of what Will Corby has to do involves long-haul flights, bumpy rides in local buses and nights spent in… less than 5* accomodation, shall we say. Makes a change from playing sardines on the Jubilee line on a Monday morning!

Spring 2019 brought his first trip to origin of the year – and this time, it was Colombia. Home of El Mirador, Buenos Aires and El Silencio – though it wasn’t BAU farm visits for Will this time…

Land of Diversity 2019

Will’s trip was partly to attend the Land of Diversity competition as Head Judge. Open to any coffee farm owners, it’s a chance to be recognised for producing a truly-stand out coffee!

It’s held at a farm owned by the Federación Nacional de cafeteros (FNC) which, when it’s not competition time, is a training centre for farmers. Growers from across the country come and stay a week in dormitory rooms, and spend their time taking classes and lectures.

But this time, it was Will bunking up! Staying there for the whole competition wasn’t too shabby though, with a homecooked-style Colombian meal every night. In his words, “rice was the main carb with every meal, but you always got a second carb too” – dream, right (hello spag bol with garlic bread)! Here’s a little taster:

Baked eggs, ham, cheese and tomato sauce
Fresh pineapple
Fried chicken, rice, veg and soup
Granadilla fruit
Shredded pork wraps

Will is part of the reason the Land of Diversity is even a thing, as he helped develop it and still constantly inputs into how it’s run – hence his position as Head Judge! This was a great year – 42 coffees to cup, the best 20 separated out and then the most outstanding decided in five categories – exotic (the interplay between flavour and taste), acidic, body, softness and balance. Fun fact: their score sheet was based off Pact’s own!

Asomuprisma Women’s Association

As hard work as it is painstakingly judging 42 of Colombia’s best coffees, our Head of Coffee never rests! The next stop was the Asomuprisma Women’s Association – who you might remember from his visits last autumn. Our mission with Asomuprisma only works if it becomes a long and lasting relationship – as gender equity is never achieved in a day!

This time, first stop was the local shop to pick up some essential (but simple) bits of kit – including a Fermaestro™and some plastic bins to use as floatation tanks! Each and every women involved in the group got each of these items, to help them improve their coffee quality.

Buying bins to use as floatation tanks

But there’s no point having tools if you don’t know how to use them. Will also held a day-long training session for whole group – with extensive detail on best practice for processing. Learning when and how to pick ripe cherries, how to use floatation tanks, how to maintain, clean and set up depulping machines, and all about fermentation, he has high hopes for the results of such in-depth training.

He’s even implemented an incentivisation scheme for all the farmers, promising to buy Micro-Lots from any of them who individually manage to process speciality grade coffee – so watch this space!

The Asomuprisma Women’s Association (and family members!)

Look out for the next instalment of Will’s travels – next time it’s Honduras!

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