Introduction by Chris Kornman

This is our third Crown Jewel from the Catracha Project, a coffee community near and dear to us at Royal. This lot is from farmer Gumercindo Emerzon Ventura Vásquez and his wife Elsa Jesus Vásquez. Growing coffee on just one hectare of land in Southern Honduras. The farm, called La Palma, has only been producing coffee for four years. Gumercindo began planting coffee as way to help pay for the education of his eldest son. Now with four children, the functioning coffee farm has become the family’s primary income source.

Gumercindo is a member of a large family, many of whom are participants in the Catracha project, including his brother Jose Blas, Victor (the mayor), Simeon, and the patriarch Roberto. Lowell Powell, (Catracha team member, founder Mayra’s husband, and friend to the folks here at Royal), describes the Ventura family thusly: “In short, they are not just a coffee producing family, they are also a model of strong leadership in the community central to much of Catracha’s success.”

For those of you who may not be familiar, the Catracha Coffee Company was founded by Mayra Orellana-Powell in 2010, and is dedicated to improving the life quality of its members by increasing quality and yield, providing educational seminars, and directing transparent financial transactions that return 100% of the profits from sold, exported green coffee to the farmers.

Mayra is a native of Santa Elena, and just recently returned to the area after a stint in California’s Bay Area. She also works as Royal’s Marketing and Outreach Director, and while she’ll be missed around the office here in Emeryville, we’re excited to see her continue the incredible work she’s doing in Honduras. The coffee from Gumercindo is an excellent example of the exemplary work undertaken by the Catracha Coffee Company and the dedicated farming community of Santa Elena.


Green Analysis by Chris Kornman

There’s something to be said for the remarkable consistency in green quality from the Catracha Project. Gumerciendo’s coffee continues on trend of very high density, particularly for Central America. Mostly screen 16 and up, the green also is of average dryness but appears a bit higher than average water activity. This moisture trend is a little unusual to my experience, but has been common for the Catracha coffees.

Gumercindo is exclusively growing 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.


Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca

This is a very sweet coffee with delicate acids that can easily get roasted out of the cup. In the shorter profile, PR-0325, the acidity was much brighter and pleasant. We tasted white grape juice, orange marmalade and a lasting butterscotch finish. The first roast, PR-0324, was a longer roast, by only 22 seconds, but it ColorTracked 2 points darker and tasted much milder on the cupping table like peach preserves with roasted almond butter.

Besides the charge temperature differing the progression of these two roasts are very similar. Both roasts have the same amount of heat applied at the beginning and both increase the heat to 3 gas around the beginning of the Maillard reactions. In PR-0324, I turned up the heat just a touch more to move first crack forward. As soon as I had the momentum to get the desired result, I backed off the heat only slightly. This is easily seen by the spike in the Rate of Rise graph below.

Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman

Taking a single roast, PR-0325, I used an identical dose and grind setting to create two brews with different coffee to water ratios. While there were some admirable qualities of the brew that used more water – like brown sugar sweetness and pastry or cookie-like flavors – it generally paled in comparison to the coffee with the tighter ratio. At least for this roast, updosing a little or grinding a little finer to increase the solubles in the suspension seemed to have a positive effect.