intro

The town of San Juan Sacatepéquez is a short drive from Guatemala City, and only around 20 miles (as the crow flies) from Antigua’s historic cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Finca San José Ocaña, located within the municipal district of Santo Domingo Xenacoj within San Juan Sacatepéquez, has been in the hands of the Sanchez family for 5 generations and over 100 years. The farm has a total of 165 hectares of land, of which about 60 are dedicated to coffee production. The on-site wet mill allows the family to control the production of both wet and dry processed coffees thoroughly.

The first of three planned small lots highlighting processing variations undertaken at the farm, the double-washed coffee we have on offer here benefits from the impressive infrastructure available at the farm. Double-washed coffee is common in Kenya, but has limited applications elsewhere in the globe: the process essentially soaks the coffee in fresh water after the initial fermentation stage. There is speculation that the process may improve quality by “tricking” the seed into germination activity for a few hours prior to drying. There is certainly an added benefit in terms of cleanliness by flushing the leftover pulpy water and then using fresh water to effectively halt fermentation prior to drying.

GREEN

This coffee is a blend of two varieties: Bourbon and Catuaí. Bourbon is one of Arabica’s two commonly grown heirloom varieties (the other is Typica), and it traces its history back to the island that was once its namesake, now a French department known as Réunion. The high quality of the Bourbon cultivar is frequently identified by its citric acidity. While still fairly common, it has been outpaced en masse with higher-yielding, more disease resistant trees such as Catuaí, 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.

This double-washed lot is relatively dense, and has a slightly elevated moisture content. Relatively large in screen size, it falls squarely within the high grade of Guatemalan SHB EP (strictly hard bean, European Prep) standards.

TASTE

ROAST

A very clean coffee, this double washed Guatemalan coffee (using a processing technique famous in Kenya) was a delight to roast. It’s high moisture content made for a longer drying time in the drum in both roasts. The first roast, PR-401, was sweet with a mild acidity, lots of honey, roasted nuts, graham cracker, and vanilla. The second roast, PR-402, was shorter by two minutes with the majority of that time being a reduction in the Maillard Reactions stage of the roast from 40.5% in Pr-401 to 32.6% in PR-402. On the cupping table, PR-402 had a lovely blackberry acidity with all of the chocolate, honey and caramel of PR-401. When roasting this coffee I propose starting with a hot drum to push past the drying stage quicker.

BREW

There was a unanimous preference for roast PR-402 on the Bonavita brewer with its more crisp and clear acidity compared to PR-401. The acidity was mild, yet clean, with a lot of details in the cup. Evan noted a sweet peach pear that was more lemon shortbread in my book. PR-402 was big on body, almond and peanut butter cookies came to mind, but the delicate floral and fruit acidity was lost.

Origin Information

Grower
Finca San José Ocaña
Variety
Bourbon, Catuai
Region
San Juan Sacatepéquez, Guatemala, Guatemala
Harvest
January - May
Altitude
1,950 meters
Soil
Clay minerals
Process
Fermented underwater for 12-24 hours, washed with clean spring water, soaked for another 12-24 hours, and dried on raised beds
Certifications

Background Details

This coffee is sourced from a family-owned estate located within the municipality of San Juan Sacatepéquez, in the department of Guatemala, Guatemala. Finca San José Ocaña has been in the Sanchez family since 1905. Over the last 110 years, the Sanchez family has developed 150 acres with coffee cultivation and preserved the remaining 260 acres with natural forest. Finca San José Ocaña has its own mill where cherry selection, depulping, and drying are meticulously executed.