Crown Jewel Colombia Circasia Edwin Noreña Double Carbonic Chili Mossto Fermented Honey Bourbon CJ1508 – 28808 – SPOT RCWHSE

Price $296.87 per box

Box Weight 22.00 lbs

Position Spot

Boxes 61

Warehouses Oakland

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Overview 

This is an experimental coffee, co-fermented anaerobically with aji chili pepper infused mossto, from Quindío, Colombia, produced by Edwin Noreña on his farm, Finca Campo Hermoso. 

The flavor profile is unconventional and we found notes of ginger, cranberry, chili, and dark chocolate. 

Our roasters found taking the roast slow and extending Maillard reactions to be beneficial. 

When brewed, at high TDS the coffee showcased bolder processing flavors while at more dilute ratios our pour-overs were more mellow and transparent in flavor. 

Taste Analysis by Chris Kornman 

For as ridiculous as this coffee’s name and processing imply, the cup doesn’t stray all that far from “coffee flavor.” I suspect this is partly because Edwin Noreña’s methods are intended to enhance the original flavors of the cultivar and terroir, rather than alter them. 

It’s an interesting undertaking for this particular bean, as Noreña has leaned into a somewhat divisive flavor note and really pulled off what I think is an excellent example of fermentation innovation in a way that’s just balanced enough to be enjoyable but just unconventional enough to grab your attention. 

Our word cloud is peppered with notes of various spices, ginger and of course chili rising to the surface. The coffee isn’t “spicy” per se, but rather seems to have the flavor without the heat of these unique tasting notes. 

Beneath these flavors, cranberry, chocolate, and caramel provide structure for adjacent flavors like black tea, lemon, mint, and a candy-like sweetness. It’s a wild ride, but one that I’m legitimately fond of and thrilled to share with curious coffee drinkers ready to take the next step into experimental methods in coffee flavors. 

Source Analysis by Chris Kornman with Charlie Habegger 

Co-fermentation in coffee is highly experimental and wildly controversial, and it’s worth investigating what exactly this coffee is, how it’s been processed, and who is responsible. 

Edwin Noreña is the farmer and inheritor of Finca Campo Hermoso, following three prior generations. Edwin’s contribution to the family legacy would be to convert the farm into a specialty coffee powerhouse, with a specific focus on fermentation technique and cultivar selection. Noreña is an agro-industrial engineer by trade with graduate-level studies in biotechnology and is well-connected and highly aspirational coffee producer who focuses on cultivating carefully curated varieties paired with precise processing methods, designed to express the most surprising, memorable, and delicious coffees possible within his resources. Finca Campo Hermoso concentrates on growing cultivars far apart from the nationally-distributed hybrids of Castillo or Colombia, or the traditional Caturra. Instead the farm has in production Pink and Yellow Bourbon, Sidra, Gesha, and Cenicafe 1, a relatively new resistant hybrid developed Colombia’s national coffee research institute of the same name. 

Noreña explained his methods and philosophy recently in an interview. His audacious-sounding coffee could be taken as evidence of the producer’s (figurative) intoxication with fermentation’s power. However, for Noreña his application of these processes is intended to be in service of the coffee’s inherent flavors, emerging out of respect. “It was a development that we adapted from the world of wine to enhance the flavors of coffee, always trying to intensify each coffee process using the original coffee flavors.” 

This is evidenced by Noreña’s reliance on the coffee’s mossto as a primary additive. He’s literally just adding extra coffee juice and selected microbes from a previous fermentation batch of the same cultivar. “Mossto is a catalyst that helps to accelerate, control and enhance chemical reactions during coffee fermentation,” he explains.  

Ok, so what exactly is happening with this Carbonic Chili process? Let’s break it down: 

Noreña picked this coffee from Bourbon trees, using a brix meter to selectively harvest, after which the cherries soak underwater for about an hour. Primary fermentation takes 96 hours and occurs in whole cherry, in a sealed tank, which is infused with Aji “Chili Mossto.” (Mossto, or “must,” is used here to indicate the runoff of a prior fermentation batch.) The coffee is then pulped and set for secondary fermentation with a fresh chili pepper mossto infusion for an additional 48 hours. This heavily fermented “honey” coffee is then taken to raised beds to dry for 22 days, followed by a controlled warehouse humidity stabilization for an additional 8 days.  

The result is nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. As an avowed chili and fermentation enthusiast, there’s something about this coffee that resonates with me. I’m not ashamed to say that I love it, and I think you should try it. 

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman 

This is a first for Crown Jewels: co-fermented coffee analysis, and there’s not really a precedent set for us as to what to expect. This makes it all the more reassuring that, by and large, the coffee looks and acts within normal ranges, particularly if we narrow for uniquely processed coffees. 

Much like other anaerobic or multi-stage fermentations, this Chili-mossto process is moderate in density and a little above average in moisture and water activity numbers. Additionally, it’s not all that surprising to find a wide range of screen sizes, as smaller microlots like this tend to filter out fewer out-sized beans. It also has a common feature of anaerobic ferments, a rather high proportion of off-colored beans.   

Overall, this lot is a little on the soft and widely spread side, making it an ideal candidate for slower, gentler handling in the roaster. I’d also recommend keeping the beans sealed up between roast cycles to maximize shelf life. 

Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Doris Garrido  

I got the opportunity to roast and cup some Colombian samples with new fermenting processes a year ago, and it was quite an experience. Lately, I have been seeing coffee with many different variations become increasingly common. I worked in the wine industry before coffee, and the best time for me was during fermentation; that is where the magic happens, I would say. It was exciting for me to look at the pictures we got from these coffee makers, which reminded me of the detailed attention to each step of fermentation — and the equipment they have is very similar to the ones I used to work with. 

To start my trial roast of this coffee I decided to do a long roast which in this case took me 9:55 seconds. I started the roast at 404F / 30% gas and took it to 85% right away, let it run like that for almost 4 minutes and dropped the gas to 60% and then to 30%. At that point, my exhaust temperature was getting closer to 400F, and I needed it to lower it if I was looking to extend my Maillard later. The color started changing at 307.5F and I decided to start the airflow at 50%. The airflow worked excellently at keeping the exhaust temperature stable and my bean rate of rise started dropping little by little until it hit 13/60 at the first crack. The coffee spent 1:32 seconds post-development with an end temperature of 404.3F. The cracking started quiet, and I needed to make sure on the trier what was happening by looking at the beans expanding. 

On the cupping table the best note: Ginger candy! A lot of spices, mostly curry spices in taste and aroma, cloves, mint candy, cinnamon, and bittersweet chocolate. This is a rich-bodied coffee, and you can expect the dry spices to show pleasantly. This coffee reflects the work of the coffee producer on the quality of the process, and you can taste it in the cup. Regardless of your coffee preference, it is worth trying! 

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! 

Variety is the spice of life. And what better variety than bourbon with a little spice? Personally, I will try anything and everything, so while I was surprised to hear we had a chile-fermented coffee coming our way, I was just as excited to give it a try.  

How does one approach a coffee like this? Well, just as we would with a new food we might not be familiar with. I wanted to try to roast this coffee in a couple of different ways, and from the outset I thought I’d do something unconventional. My mind went directly to barrel-roasted green chiles I’d seen in Tucson, Arizona, something they do long and slow to get plenty of flavor out. And that smell… anyway, I digress. 

I started at 455F charge temperature, strong P9 heat, and F2 fan. I reduced heat and fan to P8 and F1 respectively. I wanted to get lots and lots of drum contact and conductive heat at the beginning of this roast, and dear reader, I started with an inadvisable D3 drum speed. I made so many moves with this coffee, too, just flying by wire. This coffee nearly crashed at 357F / 7:00, but it did keep rolling. I increased drum speed to D6 halfway through, and that may have been the issue. Well, I did get my long and slow roast at 399F / 11:17 total time, but I can’t say that I was satisfied with the general trajectory. Thankfully I had enough coffee to perform another roast. Did I mention that crack was very very soft and late? It was. 

My second roast started off the same, but couldn’t have been more different. With 455F charge, P9 heat, F2 fan, and D3 drum, I still gave it a bit more conductive heating than other roasts on the Bullet. At turning point I reduced heat to P8 and increased drum speed to D6. Then I increased fan to F3, followed by F4 and P7 heat, and just let this coffee ride out into the sunset. At 365F / 6:38 I increased fan speed to F5 for one minute, as I usually get a spike in RoR at that point in the roast. After returning to F4 I got a nasty spike in RoR, followed by a more audible first crack, where I returned to F5 fan. This roast finished at 401F / 9:28 – much shorter and a little hotter as well. Further, the crack happened much more vigorously, and at a lower temperature. 

On the table, the first roast was a chile ginger kombucha bomb. The break was very strong here, with tons of spicy aromatics. My drum contact gambit worked out a bit, but the real kicker here was a sharp acidity that cooled gently into plum, pear, and grape. The finish was a touch bitter, like cocoa nibs; this was not completely unpleasant, but it was a telltale sign of my fiddly roast. 

The second roast was much more to my liking. Even though this is an unsubtle coffee, this roast brought out tansy, chrysanthemum, and the ever-present ginger note on the break. Those notes continued into the cup nicely, and unobtrusively to boot. The finish did display a bit of graham crackeriness, which I attribute to that gnarly spike in RoR at the end. This wasn’t a deal-breaker, however. The finish maintained some of the cocoa attributes of the first roast, but in a more pleasant cocoa powder form. Honestly I’d drink either of these happily! 

If you’re bold, try this one as an espresso. It’s going to take some dialing in, but it’s guaranteed to be like nothing else you’ve tasted in your life. This one is tailored for a single-origin drip, but I could really see it prepared in any old way. Drink with confidence; this coffee is what specialty coffee is all about.  

Roast #1: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/pKM74p0Q9-5H8UJM0XHzY 

Roast #2: https://roast.world/@egilman/roasts/-aGt-UeBSZpghLXG_c5xa 

 

Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Isabella Vitaliano 

Our current Ikawa practice compares two sample roast profiles, originally designed for different densities of green coffee. The two roasts differ slightly in total length, charge temperature, and time spent between color change in first crack. You can learn more about the profiles here. 

As the story goes, co-fermentation can be controversial in the realm of specialty coffee. This conversation revolves around what coffee producers are ‘allowed to do’ and ‘not do’. With that being said, I am excited we are giving these producers and their coffee a chance to show off their creativity in our Crown Jewel program. When this first landed on the cupping table I was thrilled. It is everything I want and more from a chocolate chili bar and for this alone, I love it. With the help of Doris, we can explore which roast profile really makes this coffee shine.    

The low-density roast is up first, this roast was very clean and brought out notes of honeysuckle, lime juice, chili flakes, cacao, fresh ginger and paprika. I enjoyed the zest of lime, the punch of fresh ginger and warming cacao. Although it provides a punch it is a well-balanced coffee, an ideal mix of warmth and sharpness while remaining clean in the cup.  

Our high-density profile encouraged some more nuanced flavors out of the coffee. Hints of watermelon and tropical fruit created a different depth. With these nuanced notes emerging, the flavors from the previous cup moved towards a more subtle ginger tea, preserved lemon and fresh chili.  

Doris much preferred the refined flavors of watermelon and tropical fruit in our high-density roast. I lean on the side of the low-density roast. Would I like my coffee to taste like warming cup of Mexican hot chocolate? Yes, please! This coffee is enjoyable whichever direction you take your roast. Grab a bag while you can! There is no guess as to when the next co-fermented lot will pass through Royal at this high of a caliber.   

You can roast your own by linking to our profiles in the Ikawa Pro app here: 

Roast 1: Low Density Sample Roast 

Roast 2: High Density Sample Roast   

Brew Analysis by Joshua Wismans 

Trying to figure out how to brew a coffee like this is like trying to cook a vegetable you’ve never seen before. Part of the process is just getting your head around what exactly you’re dealing with. A signature characteristic of this coffee is the sheer power of its flavor. On the cupping table, your hair is blown back on that first sip but just like in cooking, using a potent ingredient requires a nuanced approach, even if you lean into the boldness.  

For our first brew, we started with the Kalita Wave. We went with a slightly coarser grind, but with the flat-bottomed brewer, we achieved a TDS of 1.55 with a ratio of 15.79:1, coffee to water. The brew brought out the intensity of this coffee, with the pepper being especially prominent, along with the ginger, black tea, and dark chocolate. We did a few other brews that were similar strengths and seemed to notice that, unsurprisingly, the flavors that come from the intensive processing that this coffee undergoes are highlighted at a higher TDS. 

In our efforts to explore all this coffee had, we finished up our analysis with a brew that used more water than the others. Unsurprisingly again, we found the more water we used the more it mellowed out the intensity of the brew, highlighting more of the ginger, green tea, and cranberry. While it had a lower TDS that we may usually aim for, the coffee presented as a similar strength to a proper brew of a more traditional coffee. 

For this coffee, if you’re seeking a pungent brew that highlights the intensity brought by the enhanced processing, aim for a higher TDS and you won’t be disappointed. However, if you’re seeking something a bit tamer that still hints at the complexity inherent in the coffee, we suggest using a bit more water in your brews. This coffee can handle a little bit of watering down.  

Coffee Background

For such a naturally gifted department as Quindío, it tends to receive less recognition than others for its coffee. Quindío is Colombia’s second-smallest department by size, making up only about 0.2% of the national territory. It’s location, however, right on the central cordillera of Colombia’s vast Andes divide, and centrally between the country’s largest and most influential cities (Bogotá, Medellín, and Cali), give it a high volume of tourist traffic, coffee industry, airline commuters, and idyllic getaways in the form of brightly painted mountain towns, natural reserves, and high elevation tropical landscapes throughout. Almost the entire department is mountainous, its lowest elevations still over 1000 meters, and many parts are dense with coffee plantations, from the small to the large and ambitious.  Finca Campo Hermoso is a 15-hectare farm outside of Circasia, only a few kilometers north of Quindío’s capital city Armenia. It’s owner, Edwin Noreña, is an agroindustrial engineer by trade with graduate-level studies in biotechnology. Edwin is a well-connected and highly aspirational coffee producer who focuses on cultivating very specific varieties paired with very specific processing methods designed to express the most surprising, memorable, and delicious coffees possible within his resources. Finca Campo Hermoso concentrates on growing a wide variety of coffee cultivars, including pink bourbon, yellow bourbon, yellow caturra, bourbon sidra, gesha, and Cenicafé 1, a resistant hybrid developed by Cenicafé, Colombia’s national coffee research institute. The resulting coffees are often marketed under “El Alquimista”, Edwin’s personal brand for his microlots, which have featured in barista competitions and choosy roasters around the world (and Royal Coffee’s own inventory from time to time).  Edwin’s processing for this particular lot involves a two-step fermentation, followed by raised bed drying. Fresh cherry is first soaked in water for 1 hour, and then fermented in the style of carbonic maceration, in which the fruit is sealed in a chamber with a one-way valve for oxygen to escape but not enter, creating an increasingly CO2-rich environment as the cherry ferments. After 96 hours in the sealed chamber, the cherry is removed and fermented a second time in a loosely covered tank for 48 hours. Once the second fermentation is complete, the finished cherry is taken directly to raised beds to dry in the sun. Drying takes about 3 weeks for this process and continues until the dried cherry is measuring between 10.5-11.0% moisture. The fully dried coffee is conditioned for 8 days in a warehouse, allowing for humidity to stabilize inside the seeds, and then moved into GrainPro bags for long-term storage, where it is cupped numerous times over the next few weeks for quality analysis.  The big twist to the processing, however, is not only the numerous fermentation styles. At the start of each cherry fermentation, Edwin mixes in a what he calls a “chili must”, a homemade concentrated extract of chili peppers, in order to manipulate the fermentation and infuse the coffee with an additional kick of flavor. While infused fermentations like this rarely bring forth a direct result, we must admit, the balance to the final cup is admittedly sweet-spicy in an incredibly seductive way. The processing steps produce a viscous and refined tactile with out-of-this-world flavors of Aleppo-style pepper, candied ginger, spiced drinking chocolate, cranberry, and mulled wine.   The decision to use chilis here relates to the cultivar itself: ají is a south American word for chili peppers generically and was given to this particular strain of arabica by a Colombia Cup of Excellence farmer from Huila, José Salazar, who, during harvest, perceived a spicy pepper-like fragrance coming from the coffee fruit as it was broken off its branches. After earning 6th place in the Cup of Excellence in 2021, an investigation was launched into the genetic origins of the winning plants; it was discovered that they were in fact of an unknown lineage to Colombia; however, they could be genetically linked to certain rare landrace varieties in Ethiopia. It wasn’t, in fact, even a bourbon as far as researchers could tell. So the name stuck and seeds, as it happens, were sought from other growers like Edwin.  Oxygen-deprived, or “anaerobic” fermentation environments like the above have gained traction among processing wonks in coffee for the unique flavors and tanginess they can add, as well as creating exaggerated lactic- or phosphoric-like characteristics in the cup compared to what we’re used to. Edwin, by investing in his processing knowhow, and in this case, a drive for flavor enhancement, is able to produce a wide variety of cup profiles from a small parcel of land, further expanding cuppers’ expectations of Quindío coffees and evolving the standards of his peers, not to mention boosting the notoriety of Campo Hermoso and the 30 families that contribute work to the farm.