Introduction by Chris Kornman
We’re really excited to have Central American coffees landing on a daily basis, and genuinely thrilled to see the return of some of our favorite farms to the Crown Jewel Program for a second season. This is one such delightful coffee, from farmer Dr. Carlos Roberto Serrano Roa and his farm, Finca Severa. It was among our top ranked Guatemalan offerings last year and returns, freshly harvested, to the top of our list. Among its hallmarks are a great sweetness that persists through many roast degrees, a rush of fresh fruit flavors like kiwi, peach, and mandarin orange, and a floral aroma somewhere between rose and rosemary.
Sourced from a family-owned estate located within the municipality of Santa Cruz Barillas, in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Finca Severa was established by Dr. Carlos Roberto Serrano Roa in 1969 and named after his mother Severa. Over the last three decades, Dr. Serrano and his family have developed 111 of the 135 acre estate for coffee cultivation and preserved the remaining portion with natural forest and a pristine water that is used for processing coffee.
Finca Severa has its own mill where cherry selection, depulping, fermentation, and drying are meticulously executed. Wastewater is treated before it is returned to the environment and coffee pulp is converted into organic fertilizer and returned to the coffee plants. Great care is taken to provide housing, healthcare, education and social activities to those who work at the estate because the remoteness of the Finca Severa makes these essential amenities an important part of ensuring a dignified quality of life at the estate.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Dr. Serrano is growing an unique mix of varieties on Finca Severa. In addition to the rust resistant Sarchimor hybrid (increasingly seen in Central America in response to the 2012-2013 outbreak) and dwarf Caturra (a Bourbon mutation that comprises about 80% of Dr. Serrano’s harvest) are two distinctly Guatemalan cultivars. The original Pache variety was a naturally occurring Typica variation first observed in Guatemala, and has since spontaneously crossed with Caturra for a hybrid with nicer flavor and larger cherries. Then there’s Anacafe 14, glamorously named for the country’s major trade association – though the coffee was discovered on the farm of Francisco Manchamé in the village of El Tesoro, near the Salvadoran border in the far southeast of Guatemala. Anacafe 14 is a naturally occurring hybrid of Pacamara and Catimor with high rust resistance, short stature, and large fruits. Although it was encountered as early as 1984, it wasn’t added to Anacafe’s guaranteed seed catalog until the summer of 2014.
The combination of resistant cultivars and heirloom mutations has resulted, in this case, in a medium-density coffee. Mostly screen size 16-18, the coffee is nicely dried to a very moderate moisture content, though its water activity is a little high, mirroring last season’s figures in this regard. Keep an eye on post-crack development, you should have some success with caramelized sugar development based on these numbers.
A final note – we recently purchased a Kett PM-450 Grain Moisture meter, and are using it as a portable option for moisture readings, so you can expect to see additional measurements for this metric here and in the future.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
Stop the presses, happy accidents are real my friends. When I get a new coffee on my desk, I like to roast it two different ways. Usually a short roast and a long roast or I might choose to roast one slightly darker than the other. This helps me explore the flexibility and range of a particular coffee in terms of flavor in the cup and roast tolerance. My first roast was fairly quick with a roast ratio of (43.5%:41.3%:15.2%) and my plan was to achieve a similar roast ratio but to lengthen the overall roast time. To achieve this I planned on using a slightly lower heat application around 1:30 or when the Rate of Rise (RoR) starts to decline. The two roasts started to separate nicely and by the Maillard phase in roast two I was 15 seconds behind roast one, which I predicted would expand in difference as the roast continued.
At this point my RoR was dropping dramatically and so I applied a tiny bit of heat to stave off stalling any further and then a bit more heat a little later. At this point I turned my back to the roaster for a few seconds to ColorTrack my first sample and when I turned around to face the roaster again I noticed that my RoR had risen sharply and I had caught up to my first roast. I finished with almost identical total time (2 seconds early) and the identical end roast temperature. My third roast went exactly to plan and I was able to pull of a longer roast with more development compared to my first roast.
I decided to put all of the cups on the table and as luck would have it, the second roast was actually quite lovely and displayed a sweet and juicy mouthfeel with a ton of peachy fruit. Of course if you look at the Rate of Rise the second roast looks a bit like a ski jump. Roast one was citric and sweet, with a thinner mouthfeel and roast three had a lot of sugar browning flavors with a sticky mouthfeel. Roast two, in comparison to the others had shorter Maillard and post-crack stages and a long drying stage (48.6%) which is nearly 50% of the total roast time. Chris often speaks of water activity and the theories that a higher water activity is linked to sugar browning. Perhaps with this medium density coffee and higher water activity, this roast was able to take the fast lane through the Maillard phase and post crack development.
- Roast one – lemon floral – lemongrass – black tea, brown sugar, kiwi, honeydew
- Roast two – peach mild lime – baked peach – rosehip pastry, caramel, slick mouthfeel, juicy
- Roast three – cherry cola – peach, vanilla – praline, toffee sticky mouthfeel
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
For Jen’s two roasts of this coffee we didn’t necessarily stop the presses (French or Aero), we just used filter drip. This ended up being a coffee that demanded clarity and attention to detail, and we found that the best results came through a manual drip method.
We do love our Bonavita drippers, but this particular coffee benefited from the sort of attention one can provide when making a Chemex. As you can see from our notes below, we definitely preferred the Chemex brews of this coffee over the Bonavita, likely due to the fact that the this coffee was so soluble that Bonavita brews tended to overextract. To illustrate this point, my preferred brew from the Bonavita was PR-693, which has the lowest extraction percentage of the three roasts brewed.
Chris kindly poured two Chemex brews that proved to be lovely. The more complex citrus, floral, and fruit notes came right out with this more measured approach. We were stunned by way of sheer contrast. The dark sugars of the Bonavita brews were replaced by heady honeysuckle, orange marmalade, and vanilla.
This coffee is available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.