Best Things First: Coffee Beans
For nearly 170 years, farmers have climbed the steep slopes of the Ospina coffee plantation in Colombia’s volcanic highlands of Antioquia. Here, under the canopy of a tropical mountain forest, the estate’s Arabica typica trees flourish from afternoon rains, filtered sun, and fertile soil. But it is the meticulous attention extended to the trees’ beans that makes Ospina Coffee’s product so superior.
“I think of it as a labor of love,” says owner Mariano Ospina-Hernandez, who grew up on the plantation. Unlike larger producers that use machines to strip an entire tree at once, the Ospina farmers return to their trees every two weeks during the winter harvest, selecting only the ripest berries, those resembling cranberries in color. They skin the berries to release a pair of beans, and then wash, ferment, and wash the beans again. It takes about six weeks under the Colombian sun before the beans are dried.
Only the largest beans, the supremos, reach the United States, where they are roasted to a medium-dark brown and packaged. But the proof of the bean is in the mug. Offering a smooth, rich flavor coupled with a subtle winelike finish, it is sure to delight the most discerning palate. The coffee is available in limited quantities ($25 for a 12-ounce box) from Dean & DeLuca gourmet stores and the Ospina web site.