A new collaboration between the Frida Kahlo Corporation and Bogotá, Colombia-based specialty coffee roaster Amor Perfecto unites one of the world’s most famous female faces with one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages to raise the profile of the women farmers producing it today.
The Frida Kahlo X Amor Perfecto Limited Edition coffee series, which began shipping in November, showcases the work of the award-winning, women-owned-and-operated farms from which AP sources coffee, with packaging that features Kahlo self-portraits and other details derived from the Mexican artist’s paintings.
Amor Perfecto Founder Luis Fernando told Daily Coffee News that the coffee company was approached by the Frida Kahlo Corporation, which was in search of a special coffee befitting the artist’s status as a feminist icon.
“Women Colombian coffee farmers make up more than 50% of our partners, and [for] over 24 years, we have developed a very close bond with these amazing women,” Fernando told DCN. “They are pillars of their communities and they produce some of the best coffees in the world. We work for them. The Frida Kahlo collaboration allows us to reach a wider audience celebrating women in coffee, amplifying their voices, reflecting their role in coffee and community.”
The project is also motivated by the fact that while Kahlo is mostly recognized for her achievements as an artist and activist, she was also a known coffee lover.
“Along with roses, coffee was one of Frida’s most favorite things,” said Fernando. “Frida loved coffee and viewed the making and drinking of it as an integral part of her everyday inspiration. She was known for making café de olla and sitting in front of the house offering it to people.”
Roasting solely on Loring machines since 2011, Amor Perfecto Head Roaster Walter Acevedo — the third-place winner in the 2018 World Cup Tasters Championship in Belo Horizonte, Brazil — roasts fresh-crop coffees at an altitude of 2,700 meters above sea level in Bogotá.
“Coffee growing and coffee making is an art, and Colombia just happens to be a leading artist,” said Fernando, whose company buys coffee directly from producers, stores the beans in parchment and only hulls within a couple days of roasting. “The antiquated model of roasting close to the consumer is more than 150 years old, making it difficult to change from within [the industry], and simply cannot produce the fresh flavors that we can by storing in parchment, roasting at source and shipping direct to your doorstep just a few days after roasting. We have supported Oxford University studies on the effect of aging on beans — but more importantly, the explosion of flavors of our coffees is the best verification.”
The first two coffees in the series hail from two distinct parts of the country. One is a washed mix of Caturra and Castillo coffees exhibiting chocolatey, nutty aromas and sweet red and blackberry notes grown on Astrid Medina’s Finca Buena Vista, which took top honors at the 2015 Cup of Excellence in Colombia and is located near the southern end of the department of Tolima.
The other is a Castillo varietal yielding creamy, full-bodied cups of toasted almond and apricot aroma and flavors of cocoa nib and dried tobacco grown on Luisa Guaragna’s Finca San Judas Tadeo, located in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta region in northern Colombia.
One of the largest specialty coffee roasters in Colombia with more than 800 domestic points of sale, Amor Perfecto has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, while recently placing greater emphasis on e-commerce and international sales.
The Frida Kahlo X Amor Perfecto Limited Edition coffee series is launching initially in Colombia, the United States and Canada, and will expand into Europe and other locations in the coming months, according to Fernando. The company also sees significant sales in the UK, Netherlands, France and Egypt, and through seven retail cafes in South Korea.
“We have the ability to re-balance the specialty coffee model in a much fairer way. This is long overdue,” said Fernando. “There are more than 560,000 coffee farms in Colombia and yet less than 0.1% of the coffee exported by Colombia is roasted at origin. We are also setting up financial inclusion programs for the farmers and this will also improve their income and financial outlook. The farmers now know there is a better way for them and their families. Coffee roasters work for the farmers, not the other way around.”
Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.