Finca Las Margaritas is located in the municipal district of Caicedonia in the Valle de Cauca department of Colombia. Valle de Cauca shares a border with Tolima on the East and Cauca to the south; its western coast includes the port of Buenaventura, through which a large quantity of the country’s coffee is exported.
The farm has a little less than 7 hectares dedicated to growing the Red Bourbon variety, and they’ve numbered their trees at around 23,000. Their wet mill is outfitted with eco-pulpers, mechanical demucilage machines that can be calibrated to strip varying degrees of cherry skin and pulp away from the seeds with very little to no water. Finca Las Margaritas adds a fermentation stage after depulping, usually between 17-20 hours with regular agitation to avoid unevenness. The coffee is then mechanically dried under closely monitored conditions to avoid too much heat.
Bourbon, one of Arabica’s two commonly grown heirloom varieties (the other being Typica), traces its history back to the island that was once its namesake, now a French department known as Réunion, off the coast of the African continent East off the much larger island of Madagascar. Red is the dominant genotype for Bourbon, and was once the most commonly grown Arabica variety in the Americas. While still fairly common, it has been outpaced en masse with higher-yielding, more disease resistant trees. The high quality of the Bourbon cultivar is frequently identified by its citric acidity.
This lot is fairly dense, with roughly 90% of the coffee above screen 16, and is just a shade out of spec from being a true Supremo. The moisture content is spot on, though the lot has a slightly higher than average water activity, not uncommon for Colombian coffees of high sensory quality.
This was a really fun coffee to roast and cup. I resolved to try a longer, slower, darker roast and a quick, hot roast, testing its flexibility. In both cases, the coffee lagged early in the roast and needed encouragement (read: heat) to develop. With the shorter roast (PR-0304) I was able to back off a little after first crack and landed a solid, bright and juicy drip-style coffee boasting a lot of citrus and tropical fruit notes and acidity not unlike a vibrant Kenya. The longer roast, PR-0303, took a very steady rate-of-rise and a long post-crack development and brought out more caramelized sugar notes and darker fruits – syrupy like molasses, sweet like a plum.
Again tackling our Crown Jewel selections this week with a multi-prong approach, we brewed and tasted through Chris’ roasts as a team. While our techniques varied slightly from person to person, we found our tasting notes to be fairly calibrated.
Overwhelmingly present in all the brews was a tart, mouthwatering cherry note. As you can see below, we brewed these coffees for various lengths of time and at different grind settings, while maintaining the same brew ratio. The last brew was the exception; this was a Kalita brew at a 1:15 ratio, which resulted in a higher extraction percentage in the brewed coffee.
Independent of what you’re looking for, this coffee has plenty of dimension, and something to satisfy everyone. As Chris noted above, the shorter and faster roast was bright and juicy – something we all love on the Crown Team. On the other hand, the longer roast had lots of developed sugars that would please those with a sweet tooth. We focused on the lighter and brighter roast for the brew analysis, If you’re into it, see what kind of sugary alternate dimensions you can find in this flexible coffee!