Gersom had checked me in, as I was flying from BCN and he was already in Lima. He had chosen seat 9K, before the wing, looking west. We flew over half of Panamá and half of Colombia, the Pacific in the distance, and below us layers and layers, rivers of clouds. Two tropical storms accompanied us most of the way, respectfully, at a distance. One in particular had the shape of a cave, and in the pre-sunrise sky, dust around dawn, the lightnings coloured the cloud formation from within, turning it pinkish-orange for fleeting moments. Then, just as I was craving some sleep, the clouds engulfed us as if we flew into a dream.
After breakfast we started the descent. The clouds cleared and revealed the green slopes of the Colombian Andes, bathed in the first rays of the morning, friendly and inviting, just like I know the country to be. Soon, we flew over the interminable flats of pastures around Bogotá and landed at El Dorado, the best ranking airport in South America. After Charles de Gaulle and Panamá, El Dorado is like a spa. Everyone was kind and friendly, the architecture is easy to use, clean, delightful. I found a lunge chair and a plug for the phone and got some more sleep. Some 3 hours after the huge morning queues, it was my turn to have coffee.
I was looking for my first good coffee since Chucky’s in Sofia and Juan Valdéz just did not seem convincing enough. Xue coffee grabbed my attention. I checked the menu: extremely expensive, but they offered what I had been looking for: filter Geisha ($8) and pan de yuca ($6). The pan de yuca (cassava and cheese bread) came warm with a bowl of fresh fruit, a very pleasant surprise. The barista explained that he will personally prepare my coffee but I should allow him some 5 minutes. He asked me if I had ever tried Geisha. I said that I hadn’t, but that I had been looking forward to for a while. We struck a conversation with Andrés, the barista, and Oswaldo, the Venezuelan Miami-dweller that was used to strong espresso or Cuban-style coffee. We admired the filtering ritual of weighing the filter and the cup and milling, letting Oswaldo and me smell each step of the process. We tasted the beans – two types. One was wet-processed, the other was dried together with the cherries. This allowed the beans much more volume, as the water had not washed so much of them away. The beans are dried for 390 (!!!) days in the sun and left to stabilize. I think the 390 days refers to drying and stabilizing together. The roasted beans dried longer with the cherry tasted different – lighter, with more acidity, the others were much more chocolaty. The ground beans smelled of milk chocolate. Andrés offered the coffee in a glass, wide, large and tall and ballooney. The coffee was served with iced water to “waken the taste buds,” which was to be drank first. The first sip, just like the rest, reminded of velvet: very balanced, with some body, little and very pleasant acidity and a chocolaty, cinnamony taste. It was much thicker than other filtered coffees I’ve had at Chucky´s, but still light and very delightful. I couldn’t help but hare the experience with Oswaldo next to me, who had never tasted speciality coffee before, or at least one filtered this way. He was impressed. In a typical Latino fashion, his first thought was how this has to be exported to the USA.
Andrés explained that Xue belongs to a Colombian family that has produced coffee for over 80 years. The youngest generation took on speciality coffee and opened just one location, at El Dorado. Besides excellent coffee and food, with word-class service, they offer speciality chocolate, hipstery/touristy shoes, clothes, hats and cosmetics in very small numbers; they have a beautiful big square shared dining table and a long, curved corner bar, marble and white. One of the baristas has more than 10 years of experience and Andrés learned from him.
I showed Andrés an article on the art of serving Geisha coffee in Standart, which he couldn’t read in English, but took pictures of to have someone translate it for him. (I later sent him a translation myself). I explained that he was practically serving it the way the article, by a Geisha producer in Panamá, suggested and that the experience was more than satisfactory.
After I finished my filter in a sweet euphoria, he offered me a cold brew. A real Kyoto brew! I could not refuse. They had one of those huge crazy contraptions (image from Greenstreet Coffee Co.)
to extract it and did that for 24 hours at a time! The water used is icy cold, so it takes so long to brew. Because of the time, the coffee had much more body, less acidity, and was much more present (contundente). Served in a tall glass on ice, it’s the perfect refreshing kick. Due to the long extraction, it has much more caffeine in it. So with my low tolerance of caffeine and lack of sleep, i soon felt my fingers twitch a bit. I was absolutely delighted.
Once in Lima, reading about Xue and their finca, half of which is primary forest and natural springs, at ideal 1500 to 2000 meters above sea level, with plenty of care for the environment and quality alike, I am looking forward even more to my next encounters with Xue and their Geisha.