El Vergel – Koji Pink Bourbon

Microlot (87-89 points)

El Vergel, Tolima, Colombia – Koji Supernatural Pink Bourbon

– “A special preparation lot by our dear friends Elias and Shady Bayter utilising Koji Oryzae fungus renowned for its ability to enhance flavour profiles”. 

What to expect in the cup

Jackfruit, guava, tamarind. Extremely juicy and exotic cup filled with tangy tropical fruits rounded off with sencha green tea finish.


Koji is grown on steamed rice, cooled, and inoculated with Aspergillus Oryzae spores. In this way, it is incubated for 3 to 4 days at 42ºC. Afterward, white cotton-like wool appears completely covering the rice, which is when the koji is ready for harvesting, it is the mycelium of the new strain of Aspergillus Oryzae, these fungal spores when ripe are pale green in colour. Koji is high in catalytic enzymes including amylase, which converts starch into simple sugars. Although today new coffee fermentation techniques are being used that add natural sugars and transfer new notes to the bean, the result is more exotic and differential flavours in certain coffee beans. Along these lines, a new method of coffee fermentation with koji has been developed. unlike other methods, fermentation with Koji does not add any external notes to the coffee, but rather favors the creation of new sugars by the bean itself. Koji is the fungus used to define the flavour of many of the basic ingredients of Japanese gastronomy, such as soy sauce, miso, or rice vinegar. To work, Koji spores are mixed with a steamed base ingredient and left to act, transforming the starch into sugar and releasing a variety of fatty acids and amino acids ideal for the production of, for example, sake or soy sauce. In Koji fermentation, instead of producing alcohol, carbon dioxide, or organic acids, it has the ability to transmit its substrate in a different way than the yeasts or bacteria used in regular coffee fermentations. Depending on the variables used in each fermentation, Koji transforms the sugar starch, making the most of the sugars naturally present in each bean, making Koji-based fermentation a unique type of process. As for coffee, Koji serves as a processing agent, however, for our purposes, Koji would serve as a transformation agent, sacrificing polysaccharides and complex starches. All this makes them available for secondary fermentation by other microbes, as well as for enzymatic processes within the coffee itself while producing glutamates that improve cup structure. According to what has been mentioned and after the fungus (Koji) has been harvested from the rice, it is crushed generating a powder; at the same time, the ripe fruits have already been harvested from the coffee trees. Having said this, the coffee beans are poured into plastic containers that do not exceed 5 cm in height and ensuring that the coffee is uniform, thus providing air in the fruits, as it is an aerobic fermentation; at this point, the Koji spores are poured over the cherries evenly. It should be noted, however, that this process should be carried out for at least 24 to 72 hours for the Koji to develop on the fruits and work its magic.
It all began in 1995, when the parents of the Bayter Family decided to embark on an agricultural adventure at the El Vergel farm. With passion and dedication, they began to grow avocados, making their farm one of the most productive in the country. However, in 2006 avocado prices dropped sharply due to a disease that severely affected the crop. It was then, between 2009 and 2010, when Martha, the Bayter’s mother, decided to diversify her crops and save costs by introducing coffee varieties such as Catimor, red and rellow Caturra, challenging the limits of her knowledge. As interest in coffee grew, the Bayters embarked on a journey of empirical knowledge about pulping and different types of fermentation. Together with Nelson Moya, a coffee enthusiast who showed them different processing equipment, they immersed themselves in the search for specialty coffees from Colombia and certified their farm as “Rainforest” by the prestigious “Federación Nacional de Cafeteros” between 2014 and 2015. Their dedication and love for coffee began to bear fruit.This is how, in 2016, they met Miguel Jimenez, an expert in varietal and specialty coffees, who guided the Bayters in planting varieties such as Geisha, Java, Pacamara, Red Bourbon and Laurina, giving the first productions of these coffees in 2017, marking a milestone in their trajectory. As time progressed, the farm was modernised, and in 2018, natural coffee processes were implemented, such as aerobic and anaerobic, and silos were acquired for coffee storage. Little by little they became pioneers of innovation and quality. Currently the Bayter family carries out exhaustive research on bacteria and yeasts to control fermentation together with tireless experimentation of processes, reaching unprecedented levels of excellence in their coffees. Today El Vergel has expanded to have more than 28 varietals spread throughout its lands and is characterised for being the first coffee farm in Colombia to develop the Koji fermentation process, a process that has completely changed the way of developing green coffee.