This week we’re releasing three unique and delightful microlots from the Vides family in Guatemala, each from a different farm the family owns and operates. The Vides family’s story in coffee began 3 generations ago in 1958, when Jorge Vides Molina, a prominent doctor, founded Finca la Bolsa as a passion project. His grandchildren now manage the network of farms in Huehuetenango and the accompanying export business.
While Don Jorge passed away in 1995, his daughter María Elena and her son Renardo Ovalle took over management. In 2002 they submitted coffee from their farm to the Cup of Excellence, its first year in Guatemala, and took home the prize for second place. With the potential to produce super-specialty microlots suddenly exposed, the farms underwent an overhaul in terms of production style, cupping day lots and individual varieties to separate quality and cultivating direct relationships with roasters and coffee buyers.
Sustainability and traceability are among the family’s stated priorities, and the work shows in the attention to detail they’ve taken in harvesting, processing, and exporting. Finca Cuevitas is a 19.5 hectare farm planted with Pacas and San Ramón varieties. The coffee showcases a softer side of the acidity spectrum with ripe stone fruits like cherry and plum playing the lead while sweet flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and hints of ginger and violet fill out the supporting roles.
A pretty classic looking SHB-style size prep and balanced water activity and moisture figures. The density is quite pedestrian, especially by comparison to Cuevitas’ companion lots, perhaps due to the variety selection on this farm.
Finca Cuevitas is primarily planted with two short stature varieties of coffee; they are older American cultivars that are seen less frequently in the post-rust landscape. Pacas, more familiar to many coffee roasters for its genetic donation to the Pacamara variety, is a Bourbon mutation first observed in El Salvador in 1949, named for the family on whose land it grew. San Ramón is a Typica mutation, though it has the same genetic distinction of dwarfism, and it shows good resistance to dry climate.
I modified my most trustworthy profile a touch by lengthening the overall roast time by 15 seconds. This 15 seconds was on the tail end of the roast and increased the post crack development time compared to my 5:15 roast with the same temperature and fan speed profile. In fact, I used this new modified profile on all three of the Guatemalan coffees we analyzed this week and only this one cracked much later than the others with the shortest post crack development ratio of 13.9% and 46 seconds.
The increased Maillard development and time in the roaster really stretched this profile out, making this roast very sweet with vanilla and tootsie roll confections dominating the fruit acidity in the cup. If I were to roast this coffee again I would decrease the drying time by 20 seconds and move my first crack marker forward as well, shaving off two seconds in the roast, but leave the same amount of time for development after first crack. Which is much easier to do now that I know where first crack is.
Walking in, I knew this coffee was very sweet and liked to make sweet notes of caramel in the cup. I decided to use a high charge with just enough heat to keep this profile happily moving along. My maximum heat setting of 3 on this roast was only applied for a total of 1:30 (less than 20% of the roast). My usual profile in the Probatino would have this setting applied for more than 50% of the roast, after turn around and end before first crack. On the cupping table, this coffee was undoubtedly sweet with marzipan and dripped with cherry juice and lemonade. I recommend easing up on the gas with this coffee and applying gentle heat.
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.
This coffee had the lowest moisture content of the three Guatemalan offerings we featured this week, so my goal was to elongate the Maillard stage of development as much as possible and ease into first crack, accentuating the sugary sweetness of this coffee. Our initial arrival cupping of this coffee had notes of tamarind soda and red wine, and I wanted to capture that sugar and spice. There were a few early cracks as I approached true first crack, so beware usurpers to the first crack throne with this coffee. True first crack will be loud and clear.
On the cupping table nearly everyone commented that this coffee had a floral note, from chamomile to violet. Some other common tasting notes were various stonefruits (plum, peach, nectarine), and milk chocolate. I didn’t seem to capture any of the winey notes here, but we were certainly not disappointed with this coffee!
I started with my EK 43 grinder at 8.5, a half setting coarser than I usually use for the Kalita wave brewer. This was intentional, as I hoped that using a slightly coarser grind and a long brew ratio would result in more sweetness and fruit acidity. I was mistaken though; the first brew did have some pleasant fruit acidity, like papaya and orange, but it was also a little hollow and nutty, with vanilla and pecan dominating on the palate.
Abandoning my original plan, I chose instead to tighten my grind down to 8 and try the same recipe again. This time, Finca Cuevitas was juicy and tropical, balanced with praline and caramel sweetness. It had transformed into a really unique and interesting brew, presenting notes of lemongrass, ginger, and apple cider that aren’t often found in a cup of coffee. It was also delicious, even more so because of its unique flavor notes. I suspect that this coffee would taste delicious, and very different, across a variety of brew methods, and that a barista could spend days exploring the different flavor profiles this coffee has to offer. My advice: experiment and have fun!