Before heading out for the Wrekmeister Harmonies European tour, we made a three-day stopover in Brooklyn, NY to hold a cupping event featuring a small line-up of coffees from the Fuyan and Banka cooperatives in the Pu’er, Yunan region of southwest China. Observing and understanding coffee production firsthand in Yunnan has been a personal project of mine which I have been pursuing over the past three years. I’ve cupped through many coffees from this southwestern province of China and in my humble opinion, these two cooperatives located right at the border of Burma and Yunnan are pioneers of the specialty coffee industry in China – taking great risks in a thoughtful meaningful way to elevate coffee quality and explore new flavor profiles by improving infrastructure, utilizing best practices, and constantly pursuing new experimental methods.
First off, I am hugely appreciative to Steve, Ramin, Brad, and Jackie at the Pulley Collective for letting us utilize their beautiful space to host this cupping. The Pulley Collective has drastically transformed since the last time I visited almost a year and a half ago and is now what I consider be a coffee enthusiast’s dream come true! We had a nice small group of people of about 8-10 people at the cupping which I personally enjoy because it allows for some great lively cupping discussion that is often lost in big groups.
On the table were five coffees: a semi-washed, honey, and natural processed Banka as well as a semi-washed and natural processed Fuyan. Although both cooperatives are located fairly close to one another on the map, they are at two very different elevations - Banka at 1350 masl and Fuyan at 1600 masl. The differences in locale and practices between each cooperative are really reflected in the cup. The semi-washed Banka was praised for its soft melon-like body with more accessible notes of dried apricot and toffee while the semi-washed Fuyan was enjoyed for its complex layers of black tea, cranberry, and delicate floral notes. The Banka natural was favored over the Fuyan natural but both produced a bubble gum burst of fruity flavor in the mouth. Last but not least, the real star of the show was the Banka honey. Cuppers loved its champagne-like effervescence, with just the right balance of kumquat, green grapes, and delicate floral notes.
Both Banka and Fuyan have been working to build better infrastructure for several years and now the next chapter is focusing on processing methods, including experimentation with honeys, naturals, and eventually washed coffees. I greatly look forward to the opportunity to see how these coffee fares when they attempt the honey and natural processing again next year! I am still in the process of trying to get a small half container together so maybe we will see these lovely coffees popping up around the U.S. but if not – see you all next harvest Fuyan and Banka!