It’s a pretty dramatic understatement to say that we are thrilled to have coffee from Rosalba Cifuentes’ projects in Bella Vista back in stock. We’re pretty sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way, too.
This year we’ve selected coffee from a group of women farmers in and around the municipality of Bella Vista in the state of Chiapas. This is the very first year of this project, which Rosalba has organized. She told us that “unfortunately, in the area… machismo predominates, so the producers are isolated… Taking this as a starting point, we want to try to improve the image of the producers by creating this group in order to promote their work.” Plans for the future include improving the price paid directly to the producers, many of whom are supporting their family primarily through coffee production. Most of the women are growing coffee on plot sizes of 4 hectares or less.
Beyond its humanitarian impact, the coffee is also of exceptional quality. Chocolate mousse and maple lay a backdrop on which peach and plum notes dance and jasmine-like notes lilt. It’s so enjoyable, and available for a limited time in 68kg bags and 10kg Crown Jewel boxes.
Very solid by the physical numbers, this green coffee is of average density, a little high compared to the average Chiapas. The screen size is graded to European Prep standard, mostly 16+, and the moisture is perfect at 10.5%. Our Rotronic water activity meter is in the shop, getting maintenance this week. I’d expect a coffee at these digits to hover a little under 0.55.
With a fair number of smallholders contributing their coffee the lot, it’s not surprising to see a wide mix of varieties, including legacy Bourbon, dwarf Caturra, giant Marigogipe, the naturally occurring Bourbon-Typica hybrid Mundo Novo, and lastly some Catimor – critical for disease resistance. Smallholders are at higher risk, and without a Catimor insurance policy, they could be risking their entire livelihoods.
We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor.
After a frightening incident with a high fan speed kicking some coffee out of the roasting chamber into the chaff on a recent Ikawa roast, I tweaked a recent profile on a V3 to come up with what I’ve been using happily as a light sample roast with a fair degree of success. Taking this lovely coffee through the ropes on the machine was easy and predictable, with a hair shy of 60 seconds development time the coffee had just enough time to emerge from “too light” to “just right” for evaluation. The cupping table presented us with copious floral notes in both the fragrance and flavor, and the second-most frequent descriptor was a tie between peach and plum. High cupping scores and happy cuppers, this coffee is a delight.
The best thing about coffee… No, wait, let me start again – one of the best things of the plethora of good things about coffee (!), is the fact that in almost every instance of its journey from farm to cup, small changes can have significant results. And equally, I have found, at least, small changes can do almost nothing; it all depends. Every roast of a new (to the roaster) coffee is a voyage of discovery, so I decided to dive into this coffee by the Bella Vista Women’s Group with the intention of discovering what difference small changes in heat application could make to the flavor profile of this delicious and complex coffee. I only wanted to change how I applied heat to the roast, and where possible, keep all other variables as closely aligned as I could. I charged the coffee at a 10 degree difference. I did this in order to give myself the opportunity to manipulate the manner and time I had to apply heat differently to each roast, without having too much of a difference in the time the coffee spent in the drum.
I chose to charge the first roast at the higher temperature, and as you can see, this enabled the coffee to go through its initial dehydration stage much faster. Because of this, I was able to significantly extend the amount of time spent from coloring to first crack in comparison to the second roast. This coffee accepts a high heat well, and I thought it would retain it equally well going through first crack. I was wrong. Taking my foot off of the gas just after first crack on the first roast didn’t produce the effect I was hoping for – a rise in temperature and an even slowing of the RoC. Instead, the coffee almost flatlined, barely rising in temperature over 45 seconds. However, the smell of the beans indicated to me that although the numbers suggested otherwise, the coffee would produce developed flavors without tasting baked. On this point I was right, but I had to wait until cupping to discover whether or not the acidity had suffered this post-development stall. Happily the lovely malic acidity was present and had developed a lovely starfruit-like flavor!
The second roast scored similarly well on all attributes at the cupping table, but that longer dehydration stage and aggressive heat application after the turning point, lent the coffee a complex raspberry, lime and pear acidity with a syrupy body, which paired well with notes of maple syrup, baked apple and cinnamon. I chose to extend that high heat through first crack, learning from the first roast, and waited until the last 30 seconds to turn the gas right down. Although the sugar-browning stage was shorter, the coffee was actually sweeter, rounder and bursting with well articulated flavors. I still can’t say which roast I preferred; this coffee is full of a variety of flavor nuances that expressed themselves differently with just a small amount of variable manipulation. A win all round!
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
After my trip to visit Rosalba at Mayan Harvest earlier this year, I was super enthusiastic to see this coffee on our arrivals list, and even happier when it cupped just the way it did on the table in Bella Vista. The Mayan Harvest coffees were all stunning this year, but this one took the cake.
My memory of cupping this coffee alongside the people who grew it was one of a very fragrant coffee. Even before pouring water on this coffee, many people remarked that it smelled amazing. Upon liquoring, the aromatics in this coffee still came through with subtle stonefruit and berry, and clear floral top notes.
In the roaster, this coffee behaved very predictably – first crack came in around 9:45, and I was able to engage P4 (75% power) just before at 9:30. I allowed for 1:20 of development, slowed down a bit since I opened the door of the roaster to let out a bit of heat and smoke at 9:55 and 10:25. I ended the roast at 11:05.
My roast loss percentage came in at 12.5% and while there were abundant sugar browning notes, definite malic acidity and sweet vanilla notes made themselves known. My personal favorite note from our session was ‘honeydew melon.’
Easy roasting, easy drinking, easy choice. Even if I hadn’t visited Rosalba and Dennis in Bella Vista, I would still be enamored of this coffee.