This Crown Jewel was harvested and washed on Finca La Diana by farmer Huber Grajales. La Diana is located in the municipality of Montebonito, a small town in the rugged mountains along the border of Caldas and Tolima departments in west-central Colombia.
Using a dry fermentation followed by a wash, Huber Grajales first dries his coffee on sunny patios and finishes the parchment drying in silos, small upright machines that have a relatively small footprint and are more affordable for small farmers. The coffee was then contracted through the dry mill and exported to us by our friends at Granja La Esperanza.
We were drawn to Huber’s coffee on the cupping table when it arrived. Sweet, syrupy, and immaculately clean it offers classic red fruit sweetness (think black cherry and raspberry), bright citrus notes, and a deep chocolate backbone. It’s an instant classic, and a rare spring Colombia that easily keeps pace with coffees landing from Central America and East Africa.
This very dense lot shows off some nice grading and drying practices. The density is especially remarkable given the large screen size. The coffee is about 35% Caturra, one of the most commonly grown “quality” varieties in Colombia. The other part is Castillo, a relative newcomer on the cultivar scene, and a controversial one.
In 2005, CENICAFE in Colombia developed and released the hybrid, which includes some Robusta genetics, as an improvement over similar previous varieties Tabi and Colombia. Shortly thereafter, massive plant losses rocked the country at the onset of a years-long rust outbreak, and Castillo’s resistance to fungal infections made it an ideal candidate for new planting.
There’s a tendency for many cuppers to regard the rust-resistant variety as qualitatively inferior. However (as evidenced by the high sensory quality of this particular lot) there is still very good quality potential, depending on the particular Castillo strain, and contingent on growing conditions and processing care. If you’re curious to know more about Castillo and some interesting research conducted by Catholic Relief Services under the leadership of Michael Sheridan, a summary of the “Colombian Varietal [sic] Cuppings Series” on the Coffeelands Blog is a good place to start.
This high density Colombian coffee has a lot of deep flavor notes with a very tactile character. My first roast was quick and light showcasing the red fruit quality of this coffee as well as a vibrant orange acidity. Even at a quick light roast, there was huge fine chocolate element to this coffee. In roast two I lengthened the drying stage and reduced the time during the Maillard stage. There were less fruit qualities up front in the cup and the chocolate character amplified to a very creamy and smooth mouthfeel with a deep sweetness found in a high quality dark chocolate bar.
The Colombia Montebonito Huber Grajales Fully Washed Crown Jewel ended up being extremely soluble. In fact it’s likely that this is the most soluble coffee we have put through the Bonavita. With our usual parameters, the extraction percentages hovered around 25% – a very solid cup of coffee indeed.
To ameliorate this problem, we decided to use a coarser grind and slightly less coffee. We were rewarded with cups that had much greater clarity, and definite sugar and fruit related notes. The grape noted in our previous brews of roast one was much more pronounced, and roast two had a bright cherry note that came through loud and clear.