Finca Las Margaritas is located in the municipal district of Caicedonia in the Valle de Cauca department of Colombia. Valle del 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 just over 4 hectares dedicated to growing the Yellow Bourbon variety, and they’ve numbered their trees at 16,856. 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. An explosion of cherry color variants in recent history have emerged on the market, including pink and orange, but yellow remains the most commonly seen recessive shade. While Yellow Bourbon is ubiquitous in Brazil, it’s not as common to find it cultivated elsewhere. I’ve occasionally heard complaints that yellow varieties can present difficulties for pickers when determining ripeness compared to red ones.
This particular lot sports a modest density, slightly high water activity, and very slightly higher than average moisture. The screen size is mostly distributed between screens 15 – 18, meaning it doesn’t fall into one of the traditional Supremo or Excelso grades frequently seen from Colombia.
With a relatively large batch size, I charged with a slightly higher gas setting than I have for other coffees recently. I noticed that as Maillard reactions began the coffee was not uniform in its change in color. I often try to increase the gas during this time period, but I opted to wait and lengthen the duration of the time before first crack to try and coax out a little more evenness in color. Making a late bump in heat just before crack pushed the roast a little darker a little faster than I expected; my rate of rise even during the height of first crack did not dip below 10 degrees per minute. That being said, the coffee is resilient and a few toasty notes notwithstanding we picked up an abundance of soft fruits and florals like raspberry, hibiscus, and strawberry shortcake on the cupping table.
While this coffee wasn’t our favorite on the cupping table, it was a peach during our brewing sessions. What really brought out the character in this coffee was a relatively fine grind and as fast of an extraction as we could muster in the Chemex. Lower counts of total dissolved solids allowed more vegetal notes to come through, but the finer grind and resulting higher TDS tempered this less gentle acidity with plenty of sugars and gracious stone fruit notes. This is a coffee that rewards attention to detail!