Intro by Chris Kornman & Mayra Orellana-Powell
Yep. In this case, what we’re talking about is ripe cherries first floated for density and defect separation, then sealed in airtight plastic drums and “fermented” (or macerated) for 46 hours and monitored for temperature (24 degrees Celsius) and pH (between 4.5 and 5). These “extra ripe” and “lightly fermented” coffee cherries must then be carefully dried, slowly over the course of a few days in thin layers on raised beds until they dip below 30 percent moisture.
That is hardly the end, though, as the coffee undergoes a series of cold conditioning stages before it’s finally ready to taste. At 30 percent moisture, the still-too-damp-for-export cherries were placed in GrainPro bags and rested for five days in a cool indoor space. Then the coffee was returned to the raised beds and dried to 20 percent moisture, and again rested in GrainPro bags for another four days. After this process the coffee was placed in a mechanical drier to reduce the moisture to its final, export-ready 11 percent.
This coffee is Extra, with a capital E, especially considering most natural coffees are just picked and then dried. This whole concoction is the brainchild of Miguel Jiménez who was recruited by the local government in Tolima to work with producers to create a pilot program for natural coffees to sell to the specialty market. The twenty producers, identified by Jiménez and selected for their small farm size and traditional cultivars, are otherwise unaffiliated and don’t fall into a particular producer group or association. Instead, they work independently under the guidance of Jiménez to create this small, slightly bonkers batch of coffee.
Following a strict post-harvest protocol makes each small individual batch consistent to be combined into a larger lot and a stunning example of innovation. At this stage, an export company called Mastercol provides crucial logistical support for things like warehousing and milling coffee for export to the international market, which provides better income for everyone to reinvest in their farms and strengthen their families’ livelihoods.
The producers themselves are located in the veredas of Caicedonia and El Rubi within the municipality of Planadas in the Tolima department. For many years Tolima has remained hidden in plain sight between other well-known coffee growing regions because armed conflict and coca leaf production isolated coffee producers and exposed them to high rates of violence. During this time, Planadas, located in the southernmost corner of Tolima, had remained an untapped source of specialty coffee where thousands of producers have been cultivating coffee on just a few acres of land intercropped with shade trees, bananas, corn, beans, and sugarcane. As conflict has subsided in recent years, locally organized producer groups have created market access for their coffee.
We’re thrilled to be able to highlight this unique and truly special coffee. We tasted loads of concord grape and plum with a solid presence of dark, heavy berry flavors. The coffee has a pleasant, if slightly surprising acidity, reminding us of lime zest and pure cherry juice. Dark chocolate and fudge anchor the coffee and underscore its fullness while hints of rose petal linger in the finish.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This coffee from Colombia comes to us with somewhat below average density, about average moisture content, and somewhat above average water activity. Most of the coffee is tightly sorted into sizes 16 through 18, with only small amounts falling outside that. Somewhat low-density coffee like this one could be scorched by high heat, and its somewhat higher water activity may lead to faster sugar browning, so consider using a gentler approach in the roast.
Caturra is a single-gene mutation of Bourbon, first reported in Brazil in 1937. Its mutation characteristic is its short stature, which allows for denser planting and easier picking, and therefore a higher overall yield. After development in Brazil it was released to Guatemala and spread widely throughout Central America. It is one of the parents of the Catimor group of coffees, which were developed to create a dwarf plant with greater rust resistance.
Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Chris Kornman
As of September 2020 we are running all Crown Jewel Analysis roasts on an Ikawa Pro V3, using the most recent app and firmware version on “closed loop” setting.
Back on the Ikawa this week, I reversed the usual order in the roaster and on the cupping table to take this wild macerated natural for a spin. Having manually sample roasted the coffee earlier in the week, I noted that I’d been a little late on the drop and the coffee came out a bit on the dark side. With the physical specs checking some very normal looking boxes across the board, I was surprised at my initial struggle and hoped that the more standardized Ikawa profiles would mitigate my error.
However, surprises abound with this coffee, and my longer, lower airflow profile (which I assumed would perform nicely for this coffee) was my least favorite on the table. You’d hardly know it by my notes, which are largely positive (indicating overall high quality of the coffee itself) and include phrases like “silly,” “clean fruits” and “bubble gum.” I felt the sweetness slipped off a bit as it cooled and that maybe the fruit notes could’ve been more distinct, but overall this was not an unpleasant cup.
The extended Maillard roast with higher airflow resulted in a very juicy and jammy cup, and as expected, highlighted the coffee’s viscosity and sweetness over acidity. The roast hit all the right flavor notes, including boysenberry and grape and dark chocolate, and improved nicely as it cooled, but had a slightly dry finish for me.
Which meant that somehow, for some reason, my hot and fast “standard” sample roast ended up being my favorite. For a profile designed to highlight the acidity and florality of high-density washed coffees, this came as a shock. But the cup was sweet and jammy with blackberry and grape popsicle notes. The slightly pulpy fruit flavors, indicative of processing style, were on full display. I felt that, of the three roasts, this one showed off the coffee’s true character the best.
Overall, this macerated natural was late to reach first crack. The pops were also very quiet and spread out, making it quite difficult to pinpoint exactly where the roast stage began and ended. If you’re used to using temperature or aural cues to find your first crack during roasting, this coffee will probably fool you. Keep a close eye on color development, don’t be afraid to press the heat early in the roast, and definitely be gentle with the flame once you think you’re approaching first crack to avoid overshooting your color target.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown 7m SR LowAF 2
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Roast 3: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Diedrich Analysis by Candice Madison
Chris wasn’t joking when he told me to prepare myself for a week of crazy Colombian coffees! The previous coffee we looked at from Nariño, and this offering from the producing group working with Miguel Jimenez in Tolima, are all about showing the industry’s avant garde processing methods and their own experimental prowess. Between the myriad details of the multi-step fermentation and drying, I’m going to leave commentary on that to my colleagues and get down to the roast itself!
This coffee comes to us with a slightly below-average density, an average moisture content reading and above-average aW reading. Recognizing that this bean would be softer and have a propensity to drink up heat and then, without careful gas application management, I chose to be aggressive up front, with the option of lowering the gas quickly and significantly after the turning point. I dropped the coffee in at my higher charge temperature of 380 F, at 90% (5) gas. In fact, I waited to step down on the gas because, even with those specs, the 4lb batch wasn’t turning as swiftly as I had hoped.
Still, as you can see from the curve, this coffee roasts wonderfully easily. I would have liked more time in stage 2, and believe it is easily achievable with this natural. It does take on heat steadily and rises rapidly if you don’t pay attention, but with an early recovery after equilibrium and a steeper curve ascending towards stage 2, you should be able to reduce the gas only a couple of times in order to advance to first crack in a timely manner. I roared in at 24 degrees F per minute – for comparison, my usual RoR into first crack is between 16 – 20 degrees F per minute.
I wanted to see what this might be like as an espresso, so I closed the air back from 100% into the drum to 50% and let the coffee rise to an end temperature of 408F but keeping my usual around 15% post-crack development. This, by the way, isn’t to say that there is any set temperature or post-crack development time or ratio that you should follow to create a delicious espresso, I’ve just been at this for a while and know what I like with regard to flavor and roast profiles, and what I think produces a yummy shot of coffee!
Cupping this, I was really pleased with the result, despite not quite nailing every point of the roast profile I had in mind to the wall. While replete with the flavors of ripe summer berries, what really stood out to me was the flavor of rich, sweet, sticky banana bread – I don’t mean that hollow, flat taste of ‘baked’ beans, the dreaded roast defect. I was tasting sugary sweet, baked bananas. I also had notes of stewed plums. The non-fruit sweetness came from light molasses / dark caramel taste as well as a clear note of cola. Cacao nibs did double duty as both a purveyor of soft sweetness and hint of bitterness simultaneously. Roasted pecans and rose hips lent complexity to the flavor profile and lifted it away from becoming cloying in its sweetness. A subtle but fresh kumquat acidity ensured that the cup felt pleasing and light, even as it lingered on the tongue, coating it with its thick velvety body.
I hear great things have come of my espresso experiment, but I am yet to taste them. Worry not, I’m speeding off to The Crown in the morning for a well-deserved cappuccino… or two!
Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 150g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here and my updated post here.
A rollercoaster of coffee emotions, this one.
I learned my lesson from the day’s previous roast and decided to use a lower charge temperature (this time around 386F), about where I expected first crack to land. Being my second roast of the day, my Environmental Temperature was relatively stabilized at 265F, so I thought I had a decent amount of heat to soak up from the roaster.
My goal was to strike a hybrid approach to Candice and Chris’ roasts above: quick, high heat application roast style to retain acidity and floral notes, but also high airflow to get some of those viscous jammy textures Chris mentioned. Candice also mentioned this coffee taking a bit more time to turn around, and boy was she right.
I wanted to add airflow earlier than usual to stick to my plan, so I introduced airflow at 3 on the dial at 260F / 2:30. I also reduced heat application to 7.5A at 275 / 2:45 thinking that I could really drag this coffee out through Maillard. Little did I know, this coffee is more of a Zangief than a Chun-Li (meaning it’s a bit slower and less responsive).
At 330F / 4:05 I was becoming more confident that this coffee would slow down through Maillard very nicely, and reduced heat application to 5A. I then increased fan speed to full at 3:40F / 4:25 and things were looking pretty good. I turned off heat application entirely at 380F / 6:00 and .. the rate of rise spiked hard going into first crack! This coffee played a trick on me at the last moment and ran away at first crack. I haven’t seen anything like this in a while, so I recommend preempting this by trying to roll into first crack as slowly as possible. I thought I was doing well, and it still wasn’t slow enough!
I was able to get 1:00 development (14% of the roast), and drop at 404F, just a little hotter than I like. Not all was lost, though I would have liked a slower rate of rise through first crack.
Upon tasting, I found my roast weight a bit heavily on this coffee. Dropping a little sooner would have truly helped keep any roast notes from interfering with the flavor. However, I did get plenty of tasty notes in the end. This coffee harbored a custardy banana note, and hints of peach and tobacco, with a cloaked but still distinct berrylike tartness. The acid hid behind the body in this coffee fairly well, but it popped out after treating this coffee as a filter drip. This one might be a bit intense for espresso, but hey, give it a shot if you’re curious!
A word on chaff – this coffee has lots of it. Don’t forget to clean your roaster thoroughly after roasting this coffee! The chaff basket and most of the back of the Quest M3s roaster was chock full of chaff after this batch. Do yourself a favor and clean after every roast.
Brew Analysis by Elise Becker
After cupping the arrival sample of this coffee, I was very excited for it to make its way through Candice’s roast and into my hands for brew analysis! For this round of brewing, I put this natural Colombia to the test on three different brew methods: two pourovers (one flat bottom, one conical brewers), as well as pulling shots of it on the La Marzocco Linea PB in our Brew Lab. Let me tell you, this coffee knocks it out of the park any way you brew!
For the flat bottom brewer, I used the Fellow Stagg. The brew was speedy, with a relatively high extraction, and yielded a lot of juicy fruit notes. I got ripe (even overripe) strawberry, cherry, bubblegum, dried apricot, and chocolate. It was definitely a funky and fun cup! The St Anthony Industries C70 served as my conical brewer, and gave me a longer brew with lower extraction. Flavorwise, this brew was a little darker in character, featuring dark cherry, dark chocolate, and concord grape.
On espresso, this coffee was incredibly delicious! My favorite shot was thick and velvety, with plenty of jammy blackberry and black plum. Almond butter, a golden molasses sweetness, and a rich dark chocolate finish rounded out the espresso. A decadent treat!