Top Ten Holiday Coffees: Atlas Winter Arrivals

By: Chelsey Walker-Watson

Nov 12, 2021

This year has flown by, and somehow, it is already November and the holidays are here! So, suppose you are still planning your featured seasonal coffees to showcase, preparing to launch your Holiday Blends or want to add another showstopper to your winter lineup. In that case, we're here for you with recommendations of fresh arrivals worthy of celebration.

Please keep reading for our current and upcoming favorites!

ASOCAFE "Coffee for Peace", Sur de Bolivar, Colombia

'Tis the season with "Coffee for Peace," a community lot from the ASOCAFE cooperative in Sur de Bolivar, a remote department in Colombia. Due to its isolation and lack of government support, the area has a long history of illegal mining and growing illicit crops such as coca. It has also been a significant center of recruitment for the FARC and other Colombian paramilitary groups. As a result, coffee producers in the region have long been cut off from the export market and historically received low prices for their coffee. However, the government also cemented a peace accord with the FARC in 2016, and the region's 1,200 producers are now finding new markets for their coffee and better prices.

With rich chocolate and almond notes, "Coffee for Peace" is on point as a base for your wintery blends, both in flavor and theme.

 Cauca, Colombia: Especial (CTI) and Inza (TGR)

New community lots on both coasts from the Cauca region of Colombia make ideal seasonal coffees to highlight in your blends.

As we've worked with Inzá coffees over the years, we've noticed a consistent depth and sweetness unique to the area. Dark cherry and ripe berry preserves are common comments, along with big-bodied red wine.  The ripeness of the fruit character can toe the wild line, requiring some careful selection to stay within what we consider to be a "safe zone." Our TGR lot shines with berry, apple, citrus, chocolate, toffee, almond notes, medium acidity, and body.

On the East Coast, a lot of Cauca Especial just became available to ship! Overall, this coffee is gentle, but with flavors of almond, maple, cocoa, and lemon peel, it already seems like a holiday treat. All it needs is an African coffee to sparkle in a blend.

Washed and Natural Guji, Ethiopia (TGR and CTI)

Parchment and cherry drying on raised beds at the Dame Dabaye Washing Station in 2019. Photo supplied by Sibu Coffee.

The availability of washed coffee and the November arrival at CTI of our first natural from Guji Zone is cause enough for celebration. Few coffee-producing countries offer as much diversity in quality and cup profile as Ethiopia. The range of floral, fruit, and botanical qualities one can experience in coffees from this single country is incredible. The subtle variations in growing conditions within Ethiopia's Guji Zone yield so many unique profiles that it could be considered a country of its own!

While the washed Guracho Washing Station profiles tend towards peach, honey, lemon, and rose, the washed coffees from the Dame Dabaye Washing Station present distinct grapefruit, passionfruit, hops, and lime zest. The naturals from Dame Dabaye are particularly outstanding, with a jammy depth to the citrus character like marmalade, guava, and pineapple. The new natural lot from Guracho is also delicious: fruity and sweet with blackberry, lime, orange, and chocolate flavors, a juicy acidity, and a light body. Offering both Dame Dabaye and Guracho coffees would be a fantastic display of the unique diversity of profiles that Guji has to offer.

CTI lots are available now; pair one with the San Juan del Rio Coco for a delightful blend. The naturals from Dame Dabaye and Guracho will be released for shipping in mid-November at TGR.

A conversation about Ethiopia is incomplete without acknowledging the ongoing civil conflict in Ethiopia, which has intensified as violence has worsened and drawn nearer to the capital city of Addis Ababa. We're relieved to report that our supplier partners in Ethiopia are safe and, for the time being, out of harm's way. We'll continue to stay in close touch with our friends there and post updates on our communications channels as they're available.

Hermanas Alvarado Parainema, Honduras

The photo above is of Ana Isabel (left), Lourdes (center), and Iris (right) and supplied by Iris Alvarado.⁠

⁠What expresses the holidays better than family?

For the second year, we're offering small, exclusive Organic blends comprised of high-scoring micro-lots from three sisters: Iris, Lourdes, and Ana Isabel Alvarado. The lots were harvested from some of the highest coffee-growing elevations around the Celaque mountain, so their coffee was the last to be delivered to the mill. Their blend of Parainema tastes balanced and gentle, with sweet flavors of apple and grape and savory qualities of cedar and leather, a smooth acidity, and a light body. Pair the Hermanas Alvarado with an Ethiopian coffee to play off the fruity tones, or add an Indonesian like the Ketiara to complement its depth.

Fair Trade Iyego FCS, Marimira Factory, Kenya (CTI)

The Iyego Farmers Cooperative Society leadership team reviewed quality during a visit in 2019.

Choose a coffee that with a purpose to celebrate the holidays! Established in 1959 with over 7,500 members, Kenya's Iyego Farmers' Cooperative Society has been Fair Trade certified since 2012. The group's vision is to be "a prosperous and sustainable Cooperative Society with an informed, satisfied and economically empowered membership," which certification supports.⁠ The 70 permanent employees of the FCS provide numerous services to farmer-members, including a coffee nursery project, training, environmental education on pest management, and soil fertility.

Washed coffee from the Marimira Factory, a washing station constructed in 1966, is available now at CTI! With tones of plum, apricot, and apple, the FT Marimira shines with juicy plum acidity and will leave drinkers with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Add the San Juan del Rio Coco at CTI to provide rich tones to a winter blend.

Dana Montana, Mexico

Dana Montana is an Organic Mexican profile coffee. While it is traceable to a group of producers, the specific group may change from year to year depending on availability and our desire for consistent cup quality. Mariana Luttmann produces our second lot at TGR (P-10809) on her Organic Estate Finca Aurora, located in Huatulco, Oaxaca. Huatulco in Zapoteco dialect means "Place where wood is worshipped." Mariana's farm is divided into 50 hectares of natural preserved forest, 70 hectares of coffee, and 50 hectares for honey production. Caturra, Typica, and Bourbon are grown here, with her coffee trees having an average age of 12 years. All coffee is grown under heavy shade, and the tropical micro-climate and the weather influenced by the nearby Pacific ocean make this a unique profile.

⁠This balanced blender is the perfect chocolatey base for your celebratory blends with flavors of apple, almond, toffee, and cocoa!

Natural Nano-lots and Community Lots,

Beneficio Las Segovias, Nicaragua 

View from Finca La Bendicion.

Are you looking for something just a little off the beaten path? Then, one of these micro-lots may be for you! We have a few Pacamara Natural nano lots (1-7 bags) remaining from producer and master processor Luis Alberto Ballardez's Finca La Bendicion. Each of these coffees was carefully processed at Luis Alberto's Beneficio Las Segovias (BLS).

Visiting BLS feels a little like entering a sanctuary for coffee, and Luis Alberto exudes a confidence that is both calming and impressive. The cupping room, drying patios, and dry mill at BLS are immaculate and maintained with care. Quality control is revered here, and every picking that Luis Alberto receives at his wet mills and dry mill is carefully cataloged and tracked through the entire process.

The available lots feature juicy fruit notes, chocolate, and cinnamon undertones, and pronounced sweetness and viscosity one might expect from various natural and honey processes. These coffees shine on their own as single origins and balance well with coffees with more base notes, bringing a little joy to everyone who tries them.

In addition to these nano-lots, Las Segovia Especial, a bulk community lot from Beneficio Las Segovias, lands this month. Hints of complex green apple, pear, sugar cane and toffee typify Nueva Segovia's character on a foundation of browned sugars and a lightly syrupy body. LSE is an ideal companion to couple with African or Indonesian lots for a balanced and sweet foundation.

Fair Trade/Organic UCA San Juan del Rio Coco, Nicaragua (CTI and TGR)

Parchment drying on the patio at UCA SJRC.

Union Cooperativas Agropecuarias San Juan del Rio Coco (UCA SJRC) was founded in 1993 in the small town of San Juan del Rio Coco, about 50 km east of the Panamerican Highway. The founding members recognized two critical points: that the future of sustainable agriculture lies in organic farming and specialty coffee's future lies in quality. From that point on, the association channeled its efforts into these two fundamentals, and the fantastic coffee they produce today is proof of their success.

A round acidity, syrupy body, and flavors of berry, cherry, sugar browning, and chocolate scream holidays to us, and the UCA SJRC will complement the Kenya Iyego also at CTI.

Organic Papua New Guinea

For many roasters and coffee drinkers, nothing evokes winter like smooth Indonesian coffee. Fortunately, after great anticipation, we received a few lots of Organic A/X Papua New Guinea on the West Coast.

Roughly 95% of producers in Papua New Guinea are smallholders, often with small coffee gardens containing a few dozen to a few hundred trees. They grow coffee alongside other subsistence crops like bananas, papaya, and legumes. Cup profiles vary by grade and region but generally have chocolate, tropical fruit, and citrus flavors.

Our current offerings have a medium acidity, full body, and a fruity character, with green tea and brown sugar notes. The balanced and versatile flavor profile plays well with other coffees to craft a crowd-pleasing (and affordable) cup.

Koperasi Kopepi Ketiara, Sumatra

The cupping Lab at Ketiara is on-site, where owner Ms. Rahmah and her family live.

What's better on a cold morning than a hot cup of earthy, sweet Sumatran coffee?

Since they began exporting in 2013, Kopepi Ketiara quickly established itself as one the most-respected Fair Trade cooperatives in the Gayo Highlands. Their reputation results from the excellent quality of their coffees, efficient contract performance, and a focus on innovation and continuous improvement. Since their first exports, we have been fortunate to work closely with Kopepi Ketiara and have seen this group evolve into the leader within the Aceh coffee-producing region. They currently have 1502 producer members in 19 villages in Aceh Tengah and Bener Meriah.

We have a new lot of coffee from Ketiara landing on the West Coast in just a few weeks. We love this coffee for its clean yet distinct origin character-- sweet, spicy earth, bell pepper, and bright citrus-- and for the people who produce it. So if you are looking for a clean, classic coffee, this one's for you!

Need other options? Grade 1 conventional and Organic Mandhelings from Permata Gayo are currently plentiful on the West Coast!

We hope that our suggestions help guide your sourcing for celebratory coffees! Want to continue the conversation and compare options? Our team is happy to help!