overview

Overview

This is a traditional washed coffee from Chiapas, Mexico, produced by a small group of Rosalba Cifuentes’ relatives.

The flavor profile is distinctly citric and refined, with a complex tapestry of sweetness. We tasted lemon, plum, caramel, vanilla, and milk chocolate.

Our roasters found the coffee easy to work with but recommend using plenty of heat early in the roast.

When brewed the coffee proved versatile and easy to dial as an espresso, with lots of potential for use as pour-over and iced/cold brew as well.

taste

Taste Analysis by Sandra Loofbourow

I look forward to tasting Rosalba’s coffee every year. It feels like a harbinger of the delicious Mexican coffees to come. Throw your preconceived notions of what Chiapanecan coffee tastes like: the Cifuentes family is doing so much more!

First, let’s talk about the acidity: distinctly citric, but refined. Lemon peel and lemon balm are made more delicate by notes of lemongrass. It has malic acidity too, in the shape of ripe plums, apple juice, and sweet tangerines.

But the sweetness is where this coffee really sings. Marzipan, vanilla, golden raisin, honey, and milk chocolate weave together to create a complex tapestry of caramelized sugars. Brewed as a comforting yet elegant pour-over or as a chocolaty, citrusy espresso, this coffee is one that keeps inviting more with each sip.

source

Source Analysis by Sandra Loofbourow

Before the pandemic, Rosalba was a fixture at coffee events. She regularly goes on tours of the US to visit the people who buy and roast her coffee, and to participate in events and conferences. She’s even served as a latte art judge for a throwdown or two!

Rosalba came to the US as a teenager and has lived here for decades, building a career and retiring successfully before getting into coffee. As a child in Chiapas, coffee was everywhere. She had an idea of how much her region was producing, but when she discovered specialty coffee she was surprised that Mexican coffees were rarely featured on Third Wave menus. She set out to change that.

Rosalba imported her first coffees in 2015 on a refrigerated container ship usually used for bananas. It’s extremely unusual for a producer to offer coffee that’s already landed, spot Oakland, but that’s what Rosalba did. Her coffees were exceptional, some of the best quality that we had tasted from the region. She continues to manage export and import logistics for her company, Mayan Harvest.

Chiapas produces huge amounts of coffee, but the market is dominated by big actors who are interested in volume over quality. There is little investment in the community, and certainly no training or quality control. By contrast, Rosalba has spent the last few years investing in better processing equipment, training producers in the details of meticulous harvest and post-harvest care and training in quality control measures and cupping. She’s started several local programs, especially for the women of Bella Vista, who’s coffee is curated as a separate lot, and for whom she often organizes events and trainings.

This coffee is from Rosalba’s own family land, grown by her cousins Froilan, Eugenio, Otoniel, and Omar, who are Rosalba’s feet on the ground for Mayan Harvest, as she spends much of the year travelling. This year, the coffee is as delicious as ever, and is currently on bar as espresso at The Crown, so if you’re in the Bay Area come by for a shot before it’s gone!

green

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman

Rosalba Cifuentes’ family’s coffee is as sweet and delicious as ever. The green, too, is clean, consistent and smells fresh and slightly sweet. There is a little reddish silver skin on a few of the beans here and there, but the overall appearance is consistent and clearly well processed at both wet and dry milling stages.

The coffee is a little on the large size, with a good spread at 16+ up to 19 screen sizes. Its density shakes out on the average side, with a slightly elevated moisture content and water activity. This largely squares with last year’s analysis of the same coffee, so for those of you familiar with previous harvests from Bella Vista there should be very few surprises.

Moisture being a little on the high side you’d do well to spend a little extra energy driving it off during early stages in roasting, and with the slightly elevated water activity I’d be sure to keep the coffee sealed up during storage until you’re ready to roast. Late spring and early summer arrivals in the Bay often exhibit this quirk, I believe it’s more climate/weather related than to do with anything on the production end, and for this reason I usually give our arrivals during this time of year a wider berth in this metric: the coffees don’t seem to suffer from it and we know based on initial sampling for contract approvals that the beans were soundly processed.

diedrich ir-5

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis profile design by Doris Garrido & Chris Kornman, words by Chris Kornman

I’m confident that Doris was more excited than just about anyone to start working with this coffee from Rosalba Cifuentes. In addition to the cultural connection, and beyond the fact that the coffee is excellent and fun to roast, Doris & Rosalba speak and exchange messages regularly so the connection is more than professional, it’s indeed quite personal.

For this reason, she expressed to me concerns about objectivity with regard to the coffee’s roasting analysis, so while the bulk of the roasting and profile design work are attributable to The Crown’s production roaster, I agreed to take pen to paper in her place.

For her initial production trial, our default analysis roast is a 5.5lb batch, roughly 50% capacity in the 5kg Diedrich, taken to a medium-light pour-over roast level. However, with this coffee we already knew it would be sliding into position as espresso on our Tasting Room menu, and for that reason Doris elected to profile this Mexico against a recent, similar spec espresso coffee, our Timor-Leste from the Eratoi group.

However, as you can see from her somewhat frantic note at the turning point, Doris immediately recognized the coffee was behaving a little differently, almost certainly due to the higher moisture content of the Mexico. I asked her a little about the early stages of the roast, and she immediately questioned her decision to wait until nearly 45 seconds of roasting to hit the gas.

“Why did I do that?” she pondered. The answer, of course, was that she was exactly following the profile I’d set for the East Timor. Fortunately, good instincts corrected what could have been a costly misstep in those early minutes. Rather than turning the burners to the prescribed 70% power, she took the roast to 100%, and held it there, aided by closing the airflow baffle at a minute after the turning point.

By the time color change could be observed, the coffee had recovered some momentum and Doris backed off the gas in two increments, 30 seconds before and after logging the beginning of the Maillard reactions. At the halfway point between color change beginning and the onset of first crack, she opened the airflow to 50% and, after reporting the beginning of first crack she further opened the airflow to 100%, using the impeller to control the drum temperature while expertly making the most of the radiant energy stored by the Diedrich’s heat exchangers.

The coffee spent just under 1:30 in development and Colortracked at 53.5 (ground), identical to the same roast of the Timor-Leste. We tasted honey, marzipan, milk chocolate, plum, and sweet vanilla at the cupping table, and passed the roast along to the intrepid team at front of house to dial in on our La Marzocco and pour-over bar.

The Diedrich IR-5 and Loring S15 roasts share more than one commonality, but perhaps the most important is this: this coffee will crave a lot of heat during early stages of roasting.

loring s15

Loring S15 Falcon Analysis profile design by Doris Garrido & Chris Kornman, words by Chris Kornman

Over the past few years Rosalba Cifuente’s coffee from Bella Vista has been through the paces on our 15kg Loring more than just about any other coffee we roast. I recently looked back on the archive and history of this coffee’s analysis and a couple of common threads emerged as we began to prepare the current harvest for its heralded return to our espresso bar.

After looking at the green metrics and Doris’ initial roast of the coffee on the Diedrich we knew the coffee would need plenty of heat to power through drying phase. In the past, much of the struggle with this coffee for the roaster stemmed from an overly drawn-out Maillard phase as a reaction to the high charge and burner settings during drying phase.

Conveniently, the coffee it was replacing was roasted to avoid a similar problem, and an existing roast curve for our Timor-Leste was used as the baseline. (That roast was first modelled on a Panama Gesha from December, which was modelled on a Guatemala Gesha from October.) As far as globe-trekking roast profiles go, in one iteration or another, this roast has been around at least one full revolution in just a few calendar months.

One of the improvements made on this profile by Doris during its early development as it evolved to improve and accentuate the delicate, nuanced floral flavors of the Timor-Leste, was to wait to ramp down the gas setting until partway through the Maillard reactions. The other, critical change she made for this Mexico happens at first crack. Instead of sloping down gently in anticipation of the phase change, Doris held onto a gas setting of 80% right up until just 15 seconds before audible pops began at close to 400F on the bean probe.

Her nerves of steel steered this roast to the brink of crack and then chopped the gas out in quick increments all the way down to just 25% within just 30 seconds. As the rate of rise plummeted from 20F/minute to just above zero, Doris dropped the batch at 1:15 of development and just 5 degrees hotter than when first crack began.

The cupping table showed off complexity and nuance, with an in-tact acid profile and essential sweetness from both the bean and its caramelization preserved nicely. We tasted vanilla, raisin, hard candy, plum, and brown sugar. The Diedrich IR-5 and Loring S15 roasts share more than one commonality, but perhaps the most important is this: this coffee will crave a lot of heat during early stages of roasting.

On the espresso bar, the coffee was enthusiastically dialed in and served with abandon by our team during a busy weekend. Its immediate popularity is a testament to the recognizability of Rosalba’s coffees in the marketplace, the attention to detail in processing, exporting, roasting, and serving, and of course the unmistakable excellence of the coffee itself.

aillio bullet r1

Aillio Bullet R1 IBTS Analysis by Evan Gilman

Unless otherwise noted, we use both the roast.world site and Artisan software to document our roasts on the Bullet. You can find our roast documentation below, by searching on roast.world, or by clicking on the Artisan links below.

Generally, we have good results starting our 500g roasts with 428F preheating, P6 power, F2 fan, and d6 drum speed. Take a look at our roast profiles below, as they are constantly changing!

Rosalba’s coffee comes through reliably this time of year every year, like a good friend on holiday. The coffee from around Rosalba’s hometown of Bella Vista, Chiapas, is regularly among the best arrivals we get from Mexico every year, and it has been fantastic to see her business grow.

This is always a sweet and easy coffee to roast. There’s always high density and decent screen size distribution, in-spec moisture content, and enough water activity to bring out some very nicely developed sugars. You’ll need a little extra push at the start, but nothing egregious.

After speaking with Doris about last week’s roasts, I wanted to try something completely different here and be a bit more freewheeling with my adjustments as I went along in the roast. This was a perfect coffee to try it with as well, since I know it will be both forgiving and delicious. I stuck with d4 drum speed throughout this roast, a little slower than normal. Also, my charge temperature was just a touch lower at 419F, countered only by my stronger heat application at P9. At turning point, I lowered the fan speed from the standard F2 to F1, only increasing to F3 and decreasing to P8 at the peak RoR around 3:25 / 300F. From there on out, it was a steady decline in Rate of Rise aside from the usual small spike before First Crack. This was achieved through a series of incremental decreases in heat application and increases in fan speed until P6, and F5 at First Crack.

This coffee got plenty of time in post-crack development, but I would have hoped to spend a bit more time in Maillard than in Drying/Green. My final ratio was 44% / 38% / 16%, owing somewhat to the density and screen size spread here. Don’t be shy about the heat application with this coffee – it can take a wallop!

No matter. This coffee, as predicted, was delicious. I do think that the high airflow at the end of roast kept this coffee tasting sparkling clean, with a nice caramel apple finish. My immediate impressions when hot were the exemplary buttery texture and slight floral flavors, with a touch of cinnamon spice. As it cooled, so much sugar came through, accompanied by crisp and clear malic and citric acid.

I don’t know how else to put it, but this is a coffee’s coffee with all the attributes showing gently but firmly. I could drink this coffee all day as a filter drip, espresso, or full immersion brew. A light roast or a dark roast. Make sure you don’t drink a gallon; it would be easy!

You can find my roast on Roast.World here: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/1DeLGQ5zEF-KPqdZeK9aV

brew

Brew Analysis by MJ Smith

As soon as I saw this coffee in our upcoming offerings a few weeks ago, I was instantly excited to brew it! After trying it brewed several different ways, on espresso, F70 and V60 pour-overs, as well as on the cupping table, I can confidently say that WOW! This is a truly delicious coffee! My first impression of this coffee was as an espresso, when we were dialing it in to serve during our busy Sunday morning service and honestly, it was magical. You can really taste all the love Rosalba Cifuentes puts into her coffee!

With initial notes of caramelized sugar, plum, and vanilla, I was describing my taste experience as something of a sweet crème brulee with a plum sauce drizzle. Like I said…magical! I had so much fun talking to all our customers about this one and sharing my excitement during our busy service (just hoping my excitement didn’t come off as overcaffeinated, unintelligible screaming?).

As for our pour-over analysis, we decided to first brew this beautiful baby up on the beautiful F70 brewer by Saint Anthony Industries. With a dose of 19g and a final brew volume of 300g, we started with pulse of 50g of water and let it bloom for 40 seconds. At that point, we started pouring an additional 150g of water to bring us to 200g. At 1:40, we started pouring our final 100g of water to bring us to 300g. It brewed a little fast, finishing at 2:44, so it was pretty delicate, but it was still a really tasty cup of coffee! We all collectively picked up on some citrusy notes, whether it was lemon peel, lemongrass, lemon balm, or tangerine, English breakfast and Earl Grey teas, as well as some vanilla, apple, and slight cider notes.

For our second brew, we switched over to our trusty V60 brewer. We lowered our dose to 18g and brought the grind down finer from 9 to 8.5. Following our standard pour-over recipe, we started with a 50g bloom, then added 150g at :40, and the final 100g at 1:40. This one had a final brew time of 3:10, and I think those extra seconds, combined with the cleanliness of the V60, really brought this cup up to its real potential. Colin and I both picked up on those same citrusy black tea-like notes from before, but they were a little more reminiscent of iced lemon sweet tea this time around. We also got notes of clementine, fresh tobacco, golden raisin, vanilla, and just the slightest whisper of rose petal.

Overall, this is a super versatile coffee that’s going to shine bright and taste delightful no matter how you end up brewing it. While I think I slightly prefer it on espresso over pour-over, I would also be interested to try it as an iced coffee or cold brew to see if those tea-notes come out as nicely when it’s over ice… Either way, I’m so grateful and excited that I now get to work with this delicious coffee on a daily basis! Thank you for this, Rosalba Cifuentes!!

Origin Information

Grower
Eugenio Roblero, Froilan Roblero Cifuentes, Otoniel Roblero Cifuentes, and Omar Roblero Cifuentes
Variety
Bourbon, Caturra, and Catimor
Region
Bella Vista, Chiapas, Mexico
Harvest
December-March
Altitude
1584 masl
Soil
Clay minerals
Process
Fully washed and dried in the sun
Certifications

Background Details

This coffee is sourced from Eugenio Roblero, Froilan Roblero Cifuentes, Otoniel Roblero Cifuentes, and Omar Roblero Cifuentes, who are uncles and cousins to Rosalba Cifuentes Tovia. These four family-owned farms are located within the municipality of Bella Vista in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Rosalba Cifuentes Tovia, who was raised in the Bella Vista coffee community, has dedicated herself to helping producers with small plots of land (averaging 5 acres) earn a better price for their coffee. Rosalba ensures traceability for her community coffee by personally exporting the coffee directly to the Bay Area. Rosalba also concerns herself with the small details like being sure to pull samples without piercing the producers bags, which has eliminated the cost for replacing damaged bags. These efforts allow producers to earn higher prices and reinvest in better agricultural practices and improve the livelihoods for their families.