Cape Verde has a 300 year old history in growing coffee. When we first went there we found the coffee industry fading away. But with so much potential, it’s been worth our while to revive the industry by developing high quality specialty coffees on Fogo Island. It is the mix between the volcanic soil, altitude and dry climate enables Fogo’s coffee growers to cultivate a one of a kind coffee.
Pico do Fogo is one of Cape Verde’s active volcano’s. The volcanic soil is one of key the elements which contribute to the sweet and full-bodied flavor profile. It’s the washed coffee from Fogo island which is an interesting candidate for espresso, whereas the unwashed coffee performs well for filter. Since we started developing the coffee on Fogo Island, the coffee has been unveiling notes of chocolate, red fruit, lemon, blackberries and vanilla.
In the past, the island group was mostly known for its lower grade coffees suitable for the commercial market. A lack of market access, knowledge, new technology and financing within the coffee community stagnated coffee developments. Now, together with the farmers and roasters, we are changing that. Coffee from Cape Verde is building a new name for its self, as their exceptional coffee is reaching the market world wide.
The first samples sent by Fogo’s growers had all kinds of signs of defects, were neglected and you could see they were unaware of industry developments. Nevertheless, Menno Simons could sense potential in the flavor, which contained a hidden sweetness and great body. After working hard, together with the growers we managed to bring those qualities to the forefront of the cup. Since then, the Fogo coffee has been selected for the Starbucks special reserve program which accepts just a few of the best coffees in the world.
Together with local partner we’ve established the joint venture Fogo Coffee Spirit. They have a dedicated local team that processes the coffee, and they provide the growers detailed training and knowledge in coffee cultivation. It is our collective aim to group the local farmers and to put their focus on specialty coffee.
We have successfully installed a large dry mill, three washing stations with Eco-pulpers and two nurseries. As well as organised several training sessions with local and external agronomists. In 2013, this resulted in the first natural coffees produced by Fogo Coffee Spirit. These naturals are characterized by honey florals, thick and sweet bodies with specific pure banana flavors.
Fogo Coffee Spirit produced the first ever washed coffee from Cape Verde in 2014. Clean, mild florals, sweet, thick body and with elegant sparkling volcanic acidity. We brought one of our Fogo employees to Ethiopia during the harvest to learn about the proper processing methods. Through these exchange programs, we can continually develop Cape Verde’s coffee potential.
Read more about our project: Reviving the coffee industry in Cape Verde.