Fidelina Peréz has just under two acres of land in the Santa Elena growing region of Honduras’ La Paz Department, just a few short miles from the Salvadoran border to the south. Señora Peréz has grown coffee on the farm, called La Escondida, since 2001, and personally manages the cultivation and harvest with the help of her husband Luis Nolasco, and their four children. Since partnering with the Catracha Coffee Company in 2014, Fidelina Peréz has been able to participate in an educational program that has helped her improve both the quantity and quality of her harvest.
For those of you who may not be familiar, the Catracha Coffee Company was founded by Mayra Orellana-Powell in 2010. Mayra is a native of Santa Elena, and just recently returned to the area after a stint in California’s Bay Area. She also works as Royal’s Marketing and Outreach Director, and while she’ll be missed around the office here in Emeryville, we’re excited to see her continue the incredible work she’s doing in Honduras. The coffee from Fidelina Peréz is an excellent example of the exemplary work being undertaken by the Catracha Coffee Company and the dedicated farming community of Santa Elena.
Fidelina Peréz is a dwarf variety with copious proliferation throughout the Americas. Originating from a hybridization of Caturra and Mundo Novo in Brazil, the coffee is resistant to wind and rain, relatively high yielding, can be planted more closely together than larger cultivars, and requires some precision in fertilization.
Physically, the coffee from Fidelina Peréz’s has a few interesting characteristics, most notably is the remarkably high density. While the screen size looks nice at over 90% above screen 16, and the moisture is within normal range, the water activity is a little high. This, combined with the high density, makes it quite durable while roasting – expect to have to push it hard with heat.
Given the high density of this coffee, I wasn’t really sure how it would react during roasting. I expected to have to open the throttle a little, so to speak, so I took a quicker approach on my first try. I was surprised to find that even though I gave the batch almost two minutes to develop after first crack, it did not broach 60 on the ColorTrack. This was our preferred coffee on the cupping table, and I think it’s likely that taken even darker on a similar curve, this coffee would further delight tasters with its balanced malic fruit flavors like plum and apple and its smooth caramelly sweetness.
Reasoning that I could try a low and slow approach, possibly for use as espresso, I started with a much lower gas setting and made my adjustments later in the roast. Once again, I was surprised that given the long post crack development time, I ended with a pretty light color score. This roast didn’t fare as well at the cupping table, but given its longer roast time I tossed it into the portafilter later in the week anyway.
It’s worth mentioning that the change in color from green to gold was a little more inconsistent than I’m used to observing with washed coffee, and there were a few early outliers when it came to first crack. This uneven development was evened out a little in the longer roast, and I’ve had some success in the past with improving even color by moving more slowly through Maillard reactions, really ramping up into First Crack, and then backing away as the pops start rolling.
I brewed dualling Chemexs (Chemi?) of the shorter roast, PR-0297, at very similar specs except for the grind setting. The finer grind setting produced a sweet, syrupy brew while the coarser setting brought out more acidity despite being a little thinner. Both were enjoyable, and as we sipped, Richard and Bob and I discussed the value of a coffee with a high degree of “drinkability.”
When I tossed the lighter, longer roast into the hopper, I had to make a number of adjustments to the grind (I suspect a result of the combination of lighter roast color and the high density of the green). Once I was getting reasonably normal looking shots, I found that longer shots were generally tasting better, my best shot at 27 seconds. I think it’s likely a tighter ratio of coffee to water might also taste nice. The recipe below yielded a sweet, thick shot with a little tartness like a dried cranberry and plenty of sweetness from flavors like thistle honey and molasses.