Michael Butterworth - Why La Palma?

As many of you are aware, we are sending our Michael Butterworth back into the trenches. After placing fifth in the Southeast region of the Barista Competition, Michael qualified for the U.S. National Coffee Championship in Seattle April 24 - 27. Michael has chosen to compete with the Colombian La Palma and below he tells us exactly why...

Quills is committed to roasting only the highest quality coffees at all times. But sometimes we come across a coffee that’s so remarkably delicious, even we’re surprised. La Palma from Tolima, Colombia is one of those coffees.

La Palma comes to us from producer Leonor Gonzales through Cafe Import’s Aces Program. The coffees in this program scored an impossibly high 90+ points on cupping table, which means professional quality graders were especially impressed with this coffee’s flavor, body, and sweetness. The farmers in this program are rewarded with higher premiums for their produce- on average more than double the rate Fair Trade and other organizations pay.

At only 5 hectares, La Palma is tiny. By comparison, Brazil’s famed coffee farm Daterra is 3,200 hectares. But at 5,500 feet above sea level, La Palma has the perfect environmental conditions for growing exceptional coffee. Coffees from Tolima are known for their vibrant acidity and La Palma is no exception. Sweet flavors of tangerine and plum gave way to tangy rhubarb. My favorite part of this coffee, however, is the mouthfeel. Brewed with a V60 or pulled as an espresso, this coffee has a velvety tactile session that makes for some very pleasant sipping. A cane syrup sweetness lingers on the palate and leaves this barista wanting another sip.

Next week I’m excited and honored to use La Palma to represent Quills at the United States Barista Championship in Seattle. It’s a nerve-wracking endeavor to compete against 35 of the best baristas in the nation, but I’m positive that La Palma is on par with any other coffee that will be served. Now it’s just up to me as a barista to serve it in a manner that pays proper homage to Leonor Gonzales, Cafe Imports, my coworkers at Quills, and the city of Louisville!