Introduction by Chris Kornman
If it seems like you’ve been seeing literal tons of new Colombian coffees hitting our menu, you’re not wrong. Late fall is prime time for delivery of June-July harvested coffees in Southern Colombia, and this gem from Cauca was one of our favorites.
El Cerrito (which coincidentally is the name of a town here in California’s Bay Area, too) is the community within the city of El Tambo where farmer Donaldo Muñoz, his wife Mirta, and their three children grow coffee on his 4.5 hectare farm “La Laguna.”
Donaldo grew up in a home where coffee growing was part of the daily routine – his father has a small farm as well. He also spent four harvests as a teenager picking coffee cherries in the Caldas department, where he truly fell in love with coffee production and resolved to return to his hometown and found his own farm.
The coffee on Donaldo’s farm initially was planted as Caturra, but rust devastated his first plants and he has since replaced his 20,000 trees with Castillo. The coffee is dry-fermented for about 18 hours after pulping the day of picking, and then washed and dried under parabolic driers to help protect the parchment from rain and excessive sunlight.
We really liked the vanilla ice cream sweetness and super smooth cocoa-like viscosity of this delightful coffee. We picked up some mild tropical fruits like papaya and found some delicate floral notes that we really enjoyed and can’t wait to share with you.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
This is a very dense green coffee with slightly higher than usual moisture numbers, though nothing to really be concerned about. This could make the coffee a little slow during initial roasting stages, but it should pick up its pace a bit once you begin to notice color changes. The coffee is about 90% screen 16 and up, making it slightly larger than average, though not strictly graded as a Supremo.
You might have noticed that this Crown Jewel is 100% Castillo. Having visited Colombia’s Cenicafé, the research branch of the FNC (Federación Nacional de Cafeteros), and seen their work, I’m in possession of what I’d consider to be a sufficiently dangerous understanding of the coffee tree’s development. Originating as a project to improve on previous cultivars’ (Tabi and Colombia, specifically) disease resistance and yield without compromising cup quality, this complex hybrid was introduced in 2005 and proved immensely resilient to leaf rust. Today, it can be found on nearly every farm in the country, thanks to its hearty nature and subsidized pricing.
Among the cultivars’ benefits are a multi-line composite of 5th generation breeding that allows for genetic diversity sufficient to resist rust and other diseases holistically within a single field of trees. Let’s say a strain of “super-roya” develops that can target Castillo – traditional varieties would flop uniformly in the face of such a predator, but only part of the Castillo grove would be susceptible because, despite being 100% Castillo there are actually 5 or so unique genetic compositions in each bag of seeds. Additionally, Castillo has been divided into multiple “regional” varieties in addition to a “general” profile.
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 exceptional quality potential, depending on the particular Castillo strain, and contingent on growing conditions and processing methods. I’m a firm believer that, given the proper care, this horticulturally advantageous variety is also an uncommonly tasty one.
Ikawa Roast Analysis by Chris Kornman
I jumped at the opportunity to do some roasting on the Ikawa this week. I took one of Jen’s successful profiles from previous sessions, and created one of my own that used differing airflow and temperature settings but finished in the same time. This allowed us to compare two very different approaches quickly as a preview before Jen took larger batches to the Probatino.
You can see the airflow represented on the chart: Jen’s roasts follow a more traditional Ikawa profile with an evenly paced rate of rise (green) and an airflow setting that decreases slowly towards the end of the roast (blue). Her roast employs about a 1 minute post crack development time that tends to result in a nice, even roast with a balance of sugar browning and Maillard reaction flavors.
My profile used a lower charge temperature, and a high initial airflow. I then drop the airflow to increase heat quickly through the Maillard reaction, and raise the airflow at the end of the roast to abate smoke and slow first crack. My profile typically results in a thinner body with higher acidity than Jen’s.
Jen’s roast curve highlighted this Cauca coffee’s dried fig and pineapple flavors with hints of toasted marshmallow and nougat. My roast was more like pear, white wine, and green tea, with a bit more acidity but a little less structure.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
In this week’s analysis I wanted to translate the Ikawa roasts to the Probatino to see if we would get the same results. Unfortunately, I could only replicate the roast profiles and not the airflow because the Probatino does not have that functionality. There is one damper in the stack to the chaff cyclone held in place by a wingnut. It is just too far away from the front of the roaster to safely adjust during a roast.
With that in mind, I gave Probatino (1) a high dose of heat just after turnaround and quickly backed off after yellowing. This gave the curve a more gentle and gradual rise. As I neared first crack, it was necessary to add more heat. In Probatino (2) I delayed heat application until necessary or when I noticed that I would lose momentum in the roast due to a rapidly decreasing rate of change. My aim was to have a steeper curve in the profile which would lengthen the drying time and decrease the Maillard stage. For both roasts, I tried my best to have them finish the same with the same post crack development times and end temperature.
This coffee tasted nice in both roasts, but Probatino (2) had an extra juiciness and more fruit qualities than Probatino (1). Interestingly, the external or whole bean Colortrack readings are identical, while the internal, or ground samples differ by more than 2 points which is significant. Because of the higher water activity of this coffee, the extended Maillard time in Probatino (1) pulled more sugar browning flavors and tannic acids creating a tactile, yet drying mouthfeel in comparison. The high water activity reading helps accelerate the Maillard reactions and so less time was needed to create a balanced cup as shown in Probatino (2).
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
I had the opportunity to look directly at El Cerrito (the city) while roasting this coffee in the Behmor. I perform all my Behmor roasts outside, and today there was a clear view to El Cerrito from where I usually roast. But let me tell you about the coffee itself.
This was a fairly straightforward coffee to roast, but it definitely took off after crack. I anticipated some smoky flavor imparted to the beans due to the high loss percentage, and also to the large amount of chaff that this coffee gave off in the roaster. Though it’s good practice to completely clean out the roaster of chaff after each roast, definitely make sure to check the tray and the roaster after roasting this coffee – it’s a chaff monster!
I took this coffee a little further than I would have liked, and probably could have reduced heat application immediately upon first crack. This one won’t need too much development – there’s lot of sugary goodness here, and you’ll see how quickly it browns in the roaster. Be gentle with this one.
Brew Analysis by Sandra Elisa Loofbourow
Rather than brew every roast once, this week I chose to take our favorite Probatino roast and brew it to multiple extractions. Focussing on one brew allowed me to explore the potential of that particular roast and brew two extremely different recipes to see how the coffee changed.
This lovely coffee from the Little Hill (El Cerrito) is full of floral sweetness, cocoa powder, black tea, and brown sugar. Occasionally there were notes of tropical fruit like papaya or melon, but for the most part it was a clean, sweet, very drinkable coffee.
The Chemex is an amazing brewer. In my mind it is one of the simpler brew methods, one that doesn’t change the cup flavor but instead lets the coffee speak for itself. It’s easy to make a large volume of coffee, which makes it easy to drink, and the thick filter ensures a very clean cup. Any time I have a coffee I like just as it is, I reach for a Chemex.
The first batch (Probat 2A) was brewed at 1:15 and had pretty high TDS readings, pushing it towards the upper portion of the extraction graph. In the cup it presented heavy dark sweetness, like black cherry, toffee, chocolate, and pipe tobacco, as well as some acidity and astringency in the form of cranberries and grape skin. Jen noted that the finish was slightly pinched, meaning that the brew might have benefitted from a longer brew ratio–the coffee wasn’t able to open up enough in these parameters.
The second brew (Probat 2B) went to another extreme. At a 1:18 ratio, this Chemex landed outside our ideal parameters, leaning towards over extraction and potentially bitterness. Our tasting notes reflect more souring notes, like underripe peach skin, grape, and cranberry, as well as a backdrop of dark chocolate, praline and caramel. There was a hint of paper that spoke to over extraction.
Neither of these brews really showed what Donaldo’s coffee had to offer, so I did one more Chemex with a compromise brew ratio: 1:16.5. Finally, we got really sweet baked apple, clean juiciness, and a hint of lime zest.
Sometimes, we find a coffee that tastes good no matter how you brew it. But dialing in a brew gives the barista an opportunity to really collaborate with the coffee, listening to what each pour over tells you about what the beans have to offer. In this case, the coffee told me it was under extracted at 1:15 and over extracted at 1:18. Together, these beans and I were able to find a balance the suited both of us, and most importantly I was able to do this delicious offering from El Cerrito justice.
This coffee may be available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.