INTRODUCTION BY CHRIS KORNMAN

Of late, our weekly focus coffees have been entirely from the Southern Hemisphere. From origins as diverse as Brazil, Rwanda, and South Sumatra, we’ve taken a microscope to the kinds of things that make these coffees tick. Whether it’s post-harvest processing, variety, or simply the terroir of the land on which the coffee trees grow, there is an abundance to appreciate about the kinds of coffees that the Southern Hemisphere has to offer. Maybe it’s because I lived in Chicago for a decade and Southern Hemisphere coffees typically arrive during the winter months, but I’ve always felt there is something warm and comforting about coffees from these regions. However, spring is rapidly ushering in freshly landed Central American coffees from the Northern Hemisphere, and we couldn’t be more delighted to feature one of the stand-out selections from a recent arrival, our  35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan.

35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan is grown on a large family estate in the Patzún municipal region of the Chimaltenango Department. Chimaltenango stretches North and West from the popular tourist city of Antigua almost to the edge of Lake Atitlán, and includes the a number of active volcanoes. Guatemala’s National Coffee Association, ANACafé, has divided the country into eight distinctly marketed growing regions, and the farm’s location near the lake mean that it is classified as “Traditional Atitlán.”

The estate has been in the ownership of the Echeverria family since 1870. Topographically, the farm peaks at around 1650 meters above sea level, and spans over 300 hectares. The family also grows bananas and macadamias on the land, and takes great pride in their commitment to environmental sustainability. Natural forest land on the farm has been preserved, and the Echeverrias protect a number of vital water sources on their property.

Coffee is processed in an eco-friendly environment on the farm and coffee pulp is recycled as fertilizer. The farm has earned a number of certifications, including Rainforest Alliance (demonstrating the preservation of the local ecosystem) and the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center’s Bird Friendly status (indicating that the coffee is both organic and shade-grown).

There’s much more that could be said about the farm, its people, and the conditions under which the coffee is grown, but I wanted to return to the reason we decided to feature it, namely the fact that it is delicious. We enjoyed its brown sugar sweetness and complexity, reminding us of flavors like blackberry and butter cookie.

 

GREEN ANALYSIS & SCREEN SIZE BY CHRIS KORNMAN

Our 35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan  is a classically graded green coffee, screen-sized mostly 16 and up with a medium-high density reading. The coffee is a little on the damp side, measuring at 12.0%. In conjunction with a moderately high water activity reading at 0.59, these moisture readings indicate that the coffee should exhibit a lot of volatile aromatic compounds that respond very positively to Maillard reactions and sugar browning. Keeping this in mind, roast development during and up to first crack will be especially important. This will be a great coffee to experiment with in the roaster, as it could tell you quite a bit about how small changes in heat application could result in huge changes in the final brewed product.

CUPPING HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT WE TASTED AT THE CUPPING TABLE

ROAST ANALYSIS BY JEN APODACA

Our 35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan performs well at several roast levels. Below is a graph of the coffee roasted on the same curve with a 10°F difference in end temperature.

Both roasts displayed above are admittedly short, even for the small 1kg Probatino, but still produced pleasant flavors in the cup. PR-0131 with a shorter profile and lower end temperature displayed mild acids like cantaloupe and applesauce with a nice milk caramel. PR-0132 with higher end temperature, managed to maintain sweetness and body, chocolate, raisins, and blackberry.

There are several ways to create a dark roast profile. The most common way is to lengthen the time the roast is in the drum until you reach the desired end temperature or color of roast. A dark roast can also be achieved by starting with a higher charge temperature and maintaining the same length of roast as your lighter profiles. This is done by increasing the amount of initial energy so you can achieve a higher end temperature with less time spent in the drum. Not all roasting machines can do this efficiently and this technique may not work well for drier and less dense coffees that, for the most part, thrive on gentler heat application techniques. With our darker roast, PR-0132 the moderate to high moisture and density of the green, made it easy to stay on the curve and match PR-0131. Tasting the two side by side showed that this is a solid coffee with a mild acid structure that is clean and sweet.

35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan roasted consistently in the drum and had a nice clear and hard first crack. Heat will be your friend throughout the roast and it is flexible enough to handle any style of curve you throw its way. This is a very reliable coffee and would excel as a central component in any blend at any roast level. Most of all, I am excited to see what the rest of the harvest will taste like in the weeks to come.

 

BREW ANALYSIS BY EVAN GILMAN

Our early arrival 35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan was a dream to dial in. With Jen’s two roasts in hand, we set about the task of getting consistent results from this coffee and were not disappointed.

 

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Coffee drinkers are very particular about how they like their coffee. Without getting too granular, much of these preferences boil down to extraction percentage and total dissolved solids, or TDS. Using a refractometer, we can measure the TDS of a given solution and extrapolate the extraction percentage from this number. Taking into mind the moderate to high moisture content and density of this coffee, we correctly projected that this coffee would perform consistently whether in a highly developed or less developed roast. This consistency resulted in a relatively pleasing cup of coffee at many different brew strengths, and extraction percentages that fell within SCAA standards.

As you can see in the table below we used drastically different brew ratios, yet the resulting brews were consistently extracted between 19-21%. Our brew ratios varied from 1:12.22 (coffee to water ratio) and 1:18, and while our extractions were within the optimum balance ranges on the SCAA brewing chart, our TDS counts were higher than recommended on all brews excepting the one using a 1:18 ratio. As stated in last week’s Crown Analysis, nothing about coffee can be easily summed up; we have a sneaking suspicion that our high TDS counts are due to old burrs in one of the grinders we are using. Older burrs lead to a wider grind distribution of fine and coarse particles, and fine particles yield more dissolved solids. Nevertheless, those stronger, well extracted pots of coffee were quite enjoyable.

That is to say, it’s an easy coffee to work with.

 

CHEMEX EXTRACTION DATA

Served as an espresso, the PR132 roast still had definite tartness and the expected pleasantly toasty finish. Brown sugar was definitely present in these shots of espresso, but only tartness remained from the berry flavors noted above.

The 35261 Guatemala Organic RFA SMBC UTZ Finca Ceylan was a true winner with steamed milk. My experience was as follows: Imagine reaching for the cookie tin expecting to find grandmother’s button collection. Upon opening it, you find that it is full of actual butter cookies – and not just any butter cookies. Those donut-shaped ones with the crystallized sugar on top. This is a nostalgic and comforting coffee, a consistent and amiable offering that will be pleasing to most.