Getting to know Huila, Colombia

Getting to know Huila, Colombia

Sourcing specialty coffee is all about seasonality and flexibility to help curate and plan a menu for you.  For us, it means focusing on relationships, traceability, and quality by returning to many of the same countries, regions, farms, and mills, working with the same importers year after year to find great coffees. And Huila, Columbia is one of our favourites.

It's welcoming and beautiful places, it’s filled with great small farms that we purchase from time and time again. With so many small, family-run farms, they often work together and group similar coffees in lots in order to save money on export fees. Some farmers join their lots together through cooperatives, and others do so at the mill.  

To understand these coffee's from one of our favourite regions better, we’ve put together a quick little Q & A guide: 

Where is Huila?
Huila is a mountainous department in Andino region located in the Southwestern area of Colombia.  Huila is famous for its coffee, which is why Detour has had a relationship with Huila’s producing groups and sourced coffees for over nine years.

What does coffee from Huila taste like?
Huila is known for sweetness and complexity.  Quite often you will find a delicate cup profile, with a bright acidity, and slightly fruity and caramel-like aromatics.

What does Detour buy from Huila?
We typically purchase several lots a year from the region—some regional lots and other single producer and farm lots.  Many of the lots are used in our year round blends and others are featured on our single origin menu.

What is a Regional Lot Blend?
Regional Blends select and group similar tasting and scoring lots from multiple small lot coffee farmers harvests together from one distinctive region to create a coffee profile that expresses the terrior.  Quite often these farmers own much smaller individual plots and are part of a larger smaller growers cooperative or group.

How does a regional blend differ from a single farm lot?
An exporter has combined similar scoring and tasting lots from several farmers in the region to create a very large, homogenous lot that can be added to throughout the harvest season, as opposed to a single day’s harvest from a single area on an individual farm. These are more likely to taste similar year after year and easier to buy large volumes of high quality coffees to have on the menu longer.

Huila through the Years:
Some of our favorite Huila releases throughout the years are Los Naranjos, San Sebastian, Timana, Vista Hermosa, Los Idolos, Elicier Yunda, La Esperanza, Villa Carolina. 

LOS NARANJOS

  • San Agustin region
  • Means the oranges in spanish
  • Selected for light orangey flavours, with characteristic Colombia caramel sweetness and cocoa

SAN SEBASTIAN

  • La Plata region
  • Chocolate, grape, red cherry, with refined sugar sweetness

LA ESPERANZA

  • Single Farmer Lot
  • From the Pitialito municipality in Huila
  • Producer Luis Velasco’s family owned and operated farm

What's next in Huila?

  1. A Focus on Storage and Water Activity: Producers have taken note and begun implementing improved storage practices on their farms to maintain beneficial water activity, moisture, and parchment integrity.
  2. Dealing with the Climate impact during the harvest: 2020 has seen some dramatic climate shifts, during the cherry development stages, when the seed is growing and filling in the cherry. Unusual climate shifts can ultimately lead to a lower yield of high quality coffees.