Introduction by Chris Kornman
Back by popular demand, we stumbled upon a surprise gem on the arrival table, flagged it for analysis, and boxed it up in 22lb increments.
This decaffeinated Guatemala comes to us from Huehuetenango, a region from which we’ve seen some of the most delicious and most consistent coffees Central America from the 2016-2017 harvest. Huehue is remote compared to other famous Guatemalan regions like Antigua, and its north and west borders are shared with the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The green coffee was shipped from Guatemala to Veracruz, Mexico, the location of Descamex and their chemical-free decaffeination method called Mountain Water Process. The technique involves hydrating the coffee beans, preloading the water with green coffee extract – basically everything that makes coffee coffee except for caffeine. The saturated coffee-solids water extracts just the caffeine, is drained and filtered, and then the process is repeated until the coffee is at least 97% free of the alkaloid.
If you’d like to read up a little more on caffeine, decaffeination methods, and Royal’s decision to discontinue Methylene Chloride method decafs, check out my blog post from October, 2016.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
If you’ve ever set eyes on Mountain Water Processed coffee before, you’ll know that “green analysis” is a bit of a misnomer, as the coffee takes on a brownish hue after decaf processing. Not to worry, once you get into Maillard reactions during roasting things will start to look normal again, but it can be a little shocking seeing the effects of processing on the physical state of the coffee.
Decaf coffees must be handled with care during processing; the hydration involved means they must be re-dried, and as a result even low moisture decafs can still have high water activity. They can be more sensitive to environmental changes, as well. The elevated water activity and fragility can result in lower density, and all this means that care must be taken during roasting not to scorch the coffee or otherwise over-expose it to heat.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
High water activity and a high moisture content with a relatively high density for a water processed decaf coffee is a recipe for quick sugar browning. On a caffeinated coffee this means that we could potentially reduce the time during the Maillard stage, because of the accelerated rate of sugar browning. The decrease in time allows for more acids to be retained. However, sometimes you do not want to keep everything a coffee has to offer. Finding the balance between acids and sugar browning is key, and is the most difficult part of roasting. In our first roast I learned that in addition to racing through the Maillard stage, that first crack happens at a very low temperature of 386 °F which is nearly 10 °F lower than my average temperature on the Probatino. I also could smell processing aromas well after first crack which encouraged me to roast the coffee much darker than I had intended. My total post crack development time was 29.2% of the roast. This quick roast approach was sweet, but the processing flavors remained in the cup.
I decided to slow things down during the second roast during the Maillard stage in an attempt to eliminate decaf process flavors and achieve a shorter post crack development time. It worked like a charm, the coffee retained a vibrant and juicy orange character and had the sweetness of a fresh baked double chocolate chip cookie.
Roast one: Cherry, Chocolate cake, dried dates, spearmint
Roast two: Chocolate cookies, orange, red grape, caramel
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
For the past week, I have been roasting with the Behmor indoors underneath a ventilation hood. If your stove has an effective ventilation hood, I must say that I recommend working indoors with the Behmor since ambient temperature definitely changes the way a roast turns out! Specifically, I have been achieving more development in less time. That is to say, the coffee gets roasted quicker.
This Guatemalan Decaf was extraordinarily well behaved in the roaster. Though most of my roasts turned out a bit darker this week due to the unexpectedly fast roast times, the flavors in this decaf arrival were quite tasty. Plenty of dried fruit and sweet grains came through, and reminded us a bit of a fall smorgasbord.
Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman
Some of the basics of extraction science are affected by decaffeination. Because the coffee is rehydrated, redried, and sapped of some of its soluble content (mostly caffeine, though likely some other compounds as well), it has less stuff available to dissolve into the brew.
Taking this into account, I strove to make the most of a drip brew by using a flat bottom basket and a slightly finer grind. Per expectation, TDS and extraction percentage are a little on the low side, but the great flavors, particularly from Jen’s second roast, shone through nicely on this sweet and easy-to-drink decaffeinated Guatemala.
This coffee is available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.