For the third season now, coffee from Maximiliano Palacios’ Finca La Providencia has joined the ranks of exceptional Crown Jewels. This mid-season arrival is bright and juicy, clean and sweet, and bursting with complexity. It’s as delightful and interesting a Huehue as you’ll find.
Maximiliano Palacios is a third generation coffee farmer, and the heart of La Providencia is a beautifully maintained mill that begins at a highpoint on the sloped property, designed to take full advantage of gravity. Ripe cherries are placed in water and carried through the pulping process on a series of intricate canals to the drying patios below.
The coffee comes to us under the moniker “Palhu,” a combination of the family name Palacios and the name of the department of Huehuetenango. Huehuetenango is one of Anacafe’s 8 designated coffee origins, and is lauded for its high elevations, later harvest periods, and cooler temperatures. The region itself is just across the border from Chiapas, Mexico, and is quite remote compared to the more accessible Guatemalan regions like Acatenango and Antigua.
Maximiliano is passionate, not just about his coffee, but about all coffee from the region, calling it the “lifeblood of Huehuetenango.” We feel pretty passionate about it too.
This is a pretty solid looking coffee by the physical specs – relatively large with fairly tight screen distribution, high density, moderate moisture, and slightly elevated water activity.
In terms of cultivars, Don Maximiliano has a fair degree of diversity, from the pedigreed heirloom Bourbon to classic Central American varieties Caturra and Catuaí (both originally hailing from Brazil). Caturra is a spontaneous mutation of heirloom Bourbon, first observed in 1937, and Catuaí was developed about a decade later (though not formally released until the 1970’s) by hybridizing Yellow Caturra with Mundo Novo. Mundo Novo is the New World’s O.G. hybrid, a spontaneous cross of Typica and Bourbon, again a Brazilian contribution to specialty coffee’s gene pool.
Over the last several months I have started to rely on a few sample roast profiles more and more. One of these I call 5:15 408 \m/fc. I used to have a different name, but now that I have tallied close to 50 Ikawa profiles, it was time to sit down and develop a naming convention before I get lost in the woods. The first number refers to the total duration of the roast, the second number is the final end temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, and the last part is code for my fan speed profile. The code is simple; a forward slash ( / ) is an increase in fan speed and a backslash ( \ ) symbolizes a decrease in speed. Other notes, such as, m is for Maillard or yellowing, and fc is used for first crack.
In the picture below you can see three different coffees roasted with the same Ikawa profile and the differences in not only the amount of chaff expelled, but the color of the chaff as well. CJ1204, The red honey process from Costa Rica Coopedota, had very little chaff that was the palest of the three coffees sampled. It was even more pale than the washed coffee from Guatemala, CJ1206, which was unexpected. The black honey from Tarrazu, CJ1205, has the darkest color chaff, most likely from the large amount of mucilage left on the coffee during the drying process at the wet mill.
On the cupping table, this coffee was very sweet with a bouquet of complex citric and malic flavors. There was only a very small note of sugar browning and no grassy underdeveloped flavors. I think this coffee could definitely become juicier with more time in either the Maillard stage or with more post crack development.
The development charts at the bottom of the infographic show very little difference between these two roasts. Every stage of development shows only minor differences in time and ratio. However, when we compare profiles on the graph, you can see that how these numbers were achieved creates two very different pictures. Probatino Roast (1) started with a high charge and generally carried more energy through the roast, allowing us to make micro adjustments reducing heat as we entered first crack and through our post crack development time.
Probatino Roast (2), with a much lower charge temperature required a lot of heat early in the roast, and an additional increase before Maillard began to curb stalling and maintain energy. While Probatino (1) shows a sharp plunge after first crack in the Rate of Change chart, Probatino Roast (2) was almost a straight line to the finish with a much more steady and predictable decline in the rate of change until the end of the roast.
On the cupping table Probatino Roast (1) had more of a dynamic and balanced flavor profile with juicy fruit flavors and sugar browning notes. Probatino Roast (2) was wonderfully citric, but lacked sweetness to ground it.
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.
Straight off the bat: this Guatemalan coffee needs extra time and heat. With high density, moisture content, and water activity, don’t spare the heat with this coffee. Looking at the screen size distribution, these are on average slightly larger beans than the Costa Rican coffees this week. My roast of this coffee was admittedly underdeveloped, and I would have liked to let this coffee go for a bit longer in the Behmor.
The results on the cupping table were complimentary, but perhaps a tad pedestrian. Sweet yam, powdered sugar, and lemonade notes made this coffee sound like a comforting meal. There were definite herbal notes like basil and sage in this cup, which signify to me that I could have sped up this roast a bit. This Guat is a very solid (dense) coffee, and can definitely take the heat.
Maximiliano’s coffee bursts with stone fruit acidity and brown sugar sweetness, as well as a slightly herbal finish that adds depth and complexity to the brew. I started with a 1:16 ratio on the Kalita Wave, stirring the bloom to make sure all of the coffee grounds interacted with the water right from the beginning. With gentle 100 gram pulse pours, I was able to achieve a flat brew bed and a final cup that offered a dizzying amount of stone fruit (white peach, nectarine, apricot etc.) as well as caramel sweetness and some lime zest acidity.
I often like to drink Huehues at a shorter brew ratio, so I brewed the Palacios family’s coffee at 1:15 out of pure curiosity. This cup produced