Introduction by Chris Kornman
Catracha microlots have returned for the season, and so has Royal’s Marketing and Outreach Director, Mayra Orellana-Powell. She is back in the office with us for a little while after having returned to her hometown in Santa Elena, Honduras for the past year or so.
Mayra and her husband Lowell are pioneering an incredible community and quality focused farmer development program in the region. Fueled by a passion for the people with an innovative spirit and multifaceted approach, the ambitious project aims to improve the prosperity of farmers through access to the global specialty network via trainings, social engagement, and profit sharing.
We selected one of our favorite lots this year for Crown Analysis, a microlot from farmer Adan Hernández Amaya, who has been farming coffee for more than a decade. Adan and his wife Juana and their three children have a 4 acre farm called El Esfuerzo (“effort”). Like many of the Catracha farmers, Adan and Juana rely on their coffee sales for the vast majority of the household income. The keystone of the Catracha model is to return 100% of the profit made on the sale of the coffee to the farmers, which creates opportunities for investment and growth. In Adan’s case, he has used past profit sharing resources to build his own micromill on site, adding value to his harvest and allowing for a higher degree of quality control after picking.
Adan and Lowell have a long history. Prior to his work with Catracha, Lowell was a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, and helped install a potable water system in Adan’s community of Aguanqueterique in 1998. Little more than a teenager at the time, Adan took to the work with unmatched dedication and was trained to be the plumber for the project.
“Not much has changed in the last two decades,” says Lowell. “He has the same dedication for growing and harvesting coffee that he had and still has for maintaining the water system in Aguanqueterique.”
Adan and his family have done a nice job of making their land work for them. In addition to coffee, the farm is also home to a diverse vegetable garden. Adan has incorporated an irrigation system into his crops as well. Adan’s young son likes to accompany him during harvest, and Lowell credits the young father-farmer’s caring and nurturing personality for the excellence of his harvest.
As near and dear as the Catracha coffees are to us here at Royal, the project couldn’t exist without a strong commitment to quality in addition to a great story and system of support. And it’s with that in mind that we are thrilled to showcase this stand-out example as a Crown Jewel this year.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Catracha coffees from last harvest showed an uncannily uniform high density, and this season appears to continue the tradition. Adan Hernández Amaya’s coffee is well above average density at over 0.7 g/mL. Curiously, the coffee has a bit higher than average water activity, though the moisture is in the ideal zone. My two moisture meters were surprisingly well calibrated on this sample.
Adan’s coffee, like most Catracha lots, is 100% Catuaí, a lab-crafted hybrid of two spontaneous mutations specific to the Americas. When Bourbon seeds first crossed the ocean to the New World, the Arabica heirloom plant began to take on new characteristics, and a mutation eventually called Caturra was first observed in Brazil, noted for its short stature and resistance to wind and rain. Another spontaneously occurring variety called Mundo Novo first appeared as a cross of Bourbon and Typica and was then used as an ingredient for Catuaí, when humans got involved and crossed Mundo Novo with Caturra to create another dwarf tree with higher yield when properly fertilized.
Roast Analysis by Jen Apodaca
This coffee took well to a high charge and high heat just after turn around because of the high moisture content. On the sample roaster, I noticed very large beads of moisture and plenty of steam exiting the front loading barrel. The overall metrics of this coffee are extremely fortunate and it was rather easy to achieve a balanced roast of this dense coffee. Many dense coffees can take on too much heat on the surface of the bean creating a darker color on the outside, but hardly penetrate inside the bean. However, the high water activity of this coffee encourages sugar-browning and works as an equalizer for the internal development of the coffee during the Maillard stage. Both roasts produced very balanced cups with little need to apply much heat or time after first crack.
Despite this being a dense coffee, I experienced little to no stalling after first crack. I recommend turning the heat down at first crack or just after first crack because of the ample momentum leading into the post crack development stage.
Roast one: Hibiscus, peach, caramel, dates, orange marmalade
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Malty flavors dominated this roast of the Adan Hernandez Amaya and once again, I believe leaving the heat on full until the end of the roast would have resulted in a better cup. Even at 13.2% roast loss, this coffee displayed a few underdeveloped flavors, so it does qualify as a candidate for a pre-heating, which I detailed in my first article on the Behmor.
The strategy for these Central and South American coffees is quite different from the African coffees we released last week. These Western Hemisphere coffees have much higher moisture content and water activity, and in most cases a larger average screen size as well. Furthermore, they’re from completely opposite sides of the planet.. but I think the green specs are really what you should pay attention to here.
Give this coffee plenty of heat, and quick. You’ll be rewarded with bright kiwi and cotton candy sweetness alongside the malty sugars and malic apricot acidity.
Brew Analysis by Chris Kornman
Jen brewed her roast of Adan Hernández Amaya’s coffee on a glass Kalita Wave, using a slightly coarser grind than usual. The coffee brewed quickly with relatively low TDS, but her slightly lower coffee-to-water ratio kept the extraction percentage above 19% meaning that plenty of sugary sweetness was pulled into the cup alongside a plethora of fresh fruit notes. A slightly thin, but silky and effervescent brew replete with pineapple, peach, mango notes, accompanied by crisp white wine and Belgian Waffle… maybe a perfect accompaniment to Sunday Brunch?
This coffee may be available in full size bags as well. Contact Us to find out more.