Chiroso is an incredible coffee variety, somehow only previously appearing in the community of Urrao, Antioquia, high in the Colombian Andes. Once thought to be a local mutation of caturra, new evidence suggests that it may have more in common with the heirloom varieties of Ethiopia.
The Echavarría Family
This coffee is the product of decades of passionate work by the Echavarría family. Finca Lomaverde is their main farm and one of five that comprise Santa Bárbara Estate, our oldest continuous farm relationship in Colombia.
The business was founded by Pedro Echavarría Sr. in the 1970s, beginning with a single parcel of land in the mountains south of Medellín. While it began as a passion project, his long term vision was to invest in quality and to export his coffee directly to international buyers. Today Santa Bárbara Estate has expanded to include Pergamino, the dry mill and exporting wing managed by Don Pedro's son, Pedro Miguel.
Since we began working with Pergamino in 2014, the younger Pedro has impressed upon us his infectious enthusiasm for chiroso. This mysterious variety appears to be endemic to Urrao, a remote community some 70 kilometers northwest of the family's farms.
Chiroso was first identified when a farmer in Urrao noticed coffee plants on his farm that didn’t resemble the other caturra he was growing. These were short, like caturra, but unusually productive, with plump, elongated fruits and seeds. Seeing that this unknown variety was well-suited to the region’s cold weather, he began to cultivate it purposefully, eventually sharing it with his neighbors.
Initially this variety was believed to be a local mutation of caturra, earning it the nickname “caturra chiroso.” Around 10 years ago, three of these lots placed in the Colombia Cup of Excellence as buyers simultaneously grew aware of the variety’s stunning flavor profile, full of heady florals and sweet tropical fruits.
Recent genetic research suggests that chiroso is not, in fact, a mutation of caturra, but more likely an Ethiopian heirloom variety that somehow arrived in this remote corner of Colombia. In that sense, it’s perhaps easy to imagine why chiroso is often compared to gesha.
This is now the second lot of Lomaverde’s chiroso that we’ve purchased but the first to appear on our single origin menu. It is also the first chiroso that we've tasted with honey processing. What we've found is a rare, winning combination of superb clarity, excellent complexity, and endless drinkability. We're so thrilled to share this unique and wonderful coffee with you.