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Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos
María Elena Guerra, María Kastdalen, Marina Caiminagua, Teresa Goana
Bourbon, Caturra, Typica
There are only 50 coffee farmers on the whole of Santa Cruz, making it one of the world’s smallest origins. Though coffee has been grown on the island for over a hundred years, a high cost of production and difficult weather conditions meant that coffee existed mainly as an afterthought for most farmers, a product that was sold onto middlemen who would (and sometimes still do) blend it with coffee from the mainland and sell it as ‘100% Galapagos coffee’ to tourists as a souvenir. This was the reality for the island’s coffee farmers when the team from Caravela arrived six years ago.
Though their expectations were extremely low – previous coffee from the Galapagos frequently cupped at a commercial quality level or below – there were some promising signs. First, from some of the samples they noticed a distinct presense of fruity and floral-like acidity, which didn’t seem to up match with the low elevations or poor growing conditions of the island. It wasn’t until they sent a member of their technical team to visit that they fully realized what they had tasted. As it turns out, the same conditions that created the unique flora and fauna the islands are famous for are also responsible for a totally unusual microclimate for growing coffee – good coffee.
On paper it should have not been possible, considering the near sea-level elevation and proximity to the equator. The trick, they discovered, is that the Galapagos archipelago is located directly in the centre path of the Humboldt Current, a cold water ocean current that originates off the southern coast of Chile, travelling up the eastern flank of Peru before venturing out westward into the Pacific ocean. The Humboldt Current produces very low sea surface temperatures even as it approaches the equator, which in turn creates cool breezes which help maintain a temperate climate on the Galapagos. This cool ocean air combined with rich volcanic soil has allowed coffee trees to thrive practically at sea level – unthinkable in the rest of the tropics.
Formerly dismissive, the team at Caravela quickly became interested in what potential lay dormant within the few dozen farms of Santa Cruz. In the past five years of training, the team has focussed on increasing yields, processing capacity and soil health among other factors, resulting in a distinct and delicious profile for the coffee of Santa Cruz. This lot, grown by Maria Elena Guerra, Maria Kastdalen, Marina Caimiñagua, and Teresa Gaona, has the additional distinction of supporting female producers on the island. Women farmers were the first to take up the banner of higher quality among the island’s farmers.
This lot was processed in the washed style using a combination of collected rainwater and desalinated tap water from their local facility, as fresh water on the island is in very short supply. Grown from traditional Bourbon and Typica varieties, the coffee presents an elegant acidity and balanced sweetness normally found in coffees grown at higher elevations of 1500 meters and above – ten times that of these four women’s farms!
On behalf of the producers of this coffee and as a recognition of the importance of the Galapagos as a haven for vulnerable species and to our understanding of the natural world, Caravan has donated £2500 to the Galapagos Conservation Trust, the UK’s only charity working solely towards protecting the archipelago. Learn more by visiting their website: galapagosconservationtrust.org.uk
Caravan Coffee Roasters are proud members of 1% for the Planet. For more information please visit https://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org
An elegant and easy-drinking coffee with a gentle yellow fruit acidity, perfect on any brewing method. We recommend a starting ratio of 60g of freshly ground coffee to 1 litre of fresh, filtered water, adjusting for taste. For more tips visit our Brew Guides.