Frequently recognized by the brand Café Granja la Esperanza, brothers Luis and Rigoberto Herrera are the proprietors of a small group of farms in central Colombia: Cerro Azul, Las Margaritas, La Esperanza, Potosí, and Hawaii.
We’ve worked with a number of exclusive microlots from this innovative group of farms since the beginning of the Crown Jewel program. It seems like every harvest the Herrera hermanos come up with something new and innovative, exemplifying the stewardship undertaken by their father, who first diversified their coffees to include Yellow and Red Bourbon, Caturra, and Typica back in 1945.
This particular selection is a delicately dry-processed Laurina variety, a unique mutation of Bourbon first encountered on Île Réunion, perhaps as early as the 1770s and most definitely by the first decade of the 19th century. You’ll likely recall Arabica’s Bourbon variety, introduced by the French in 1715 to Réunion Island (known then as Bourbon), off Madagascar’s eastern coast. Its deviant descendent Laurina is a short stature, conical tree with a diminished capacity to produce caffeine, resulting in near-decaffeinated levels of the alkaloid in the seeds. The cultivar has assumed a number of different names throughout history, including Leroy / Le Roy (perhaps the name of the farmer who first isolated it), Laurina (given its resemblance to the Bay Leaf bearing Laurel tree) and of course, Bourbon Pointu… “pointy Bourbon” if you like.
It’s fruity, but subtle and elegant; more like bing cherry and honey than wine grape and funk. Sweet and silky, it’s effortlessly drinkable, and given its low-caffeine content you can chug away all day without regret. Well worth the price of admission for a taste of this rare gem.
Narrow, small, and pointy, these green beans live up to the alternative name “Bourbon Pointu.” To some degree, the shape accounts for some of the odd physical specs below: screen size 25% below 13, for example. Despite their normal length, they are very oblong and fell through the screens easily.
Their ovoid shape also might account a little for their high density, allowing them to settle more easily. I was a little surprised at the reading, over 0.7 g/mL which is pretty high in my experience, and Jen mentioned they didn’t react like a super dense coffee in the early Ikawa roasts, so decided to dig a little deeper on this metric. Perhaps the shape allowed them to settle in 3-dimensional space easily, but bean-for-bean were they really more dense than the Bourbon Noir I’d just measured? The answer, after some displacement trials, was that yes, the Laurina is a little denser (1.2 g/mL to the Bourbon Noir’s 1.1g/mL) but maybe not by as much as freely settled measurements would lead us to believe.
(Want to read a little more about green coffee density? Check out my blog entry here).
Looking at the unusual shape of this coffee, I knew that the Laurina was going to be interesting to roast. For being small and dense, it was unusual that this coffee also has high moisture and moderately high water activity. This being my first time roasting this variety, I used one of my most trustworthy profiles to see what kind of results I would get, 5:15 412 \m/fc LM. As the Ikawa reached the cooling cycle, I realized that I didn’t hear first crack, so I roasted the same profile again and sure enough there were no pops or snaps to be heard. Looking at the coffee, I could see evidence of development and there was plenty of chaff.
On the cupping table this coffee had a very heavy and syrupy body with lots of great stone fruit notes. There was no evidence of underdevelopment and I think that this coffee could be improved with a profile that has a much shorter drying stage and shorter overall roast time.
This week was my first time roasting on the Quest M3s and it operates similarly to an average drum roaster. Since it uses electric heat, you will see the heat manipulation denoted by amperage (0-11). The fan speed is also adjustable and the dial functionally goes from 0-8. Regarding electric heat, it is important to remember that it is much slower to respond than gas heat, so every manipulation at the end of the roast during that crucial time can easily result in a stall if the roaster is not careful.
New roaster & new variety, what could possibly go wrong? My first batch was very short indeed. I started with a charge temperature of 382F with high heat at 10 amps and low fan speed set at 2. I reached yellow at 4:26 and I turned the heat down a touch to 8 and increased the fan speed to 4. This slowed the pace slightly and i continued to slowly decrease amperage and increase fan speed until I heard first crack at 7:30. My post crack development time was very short at 1:00 and I ended the roast at 403F.
Delighted that I could hear first crack, I decided to take a much different approach in my second roast. Slightly higher charge temperature of 385F, same fan speed of 2, but less heat at 8 amperage. With less heat, yellowing occurred roughly 30 seconds later than my first batch. I increased the fan speed to 4 at 6:00 and decreased the heat to 6 at 7:00 which really slowed my momentum to a snail’s pace. Knowing that the roast had indeed stalled, I turned the amperage back to 8 at 9: for the remainder of the roast. It took several minutes to recover and first crack was barely audible at 12:54 at 395F. The roast finished at 398F at 13:24.
On the cupping table the first batch, Quest(1), tasted of apricot and cranberry with lots of brown sugar. The acidity was still tart and the caramelization flavors were still very light. The second batch, Quest (2), was sweet with more cooked fruit notes, dark chocolate, and roasted nuts.
These two roasts are very different, so I am happy that the stone fruit acidity and good sugar browning flavors were consistent in both batches. While the shape and uniqueness of this variety can give you a bit of worry, I have found that it is actually quite resilient and tolerant of different roast styles and degrees of roast. So fire away and enjoy this unique coffee. Make sure to read Sandra’s brew analysis below, where this coffee really shines!
Luis and Rigoberto Herrera do not disappoint. This dry processed Lauriña is packed full of delicate fruit and candy flavors balanced by pronounced florals and prominent brown sugars. I’ve been favoring the aeropress this week, and I pulled it out again to brew this tasty coffee. Using the inverted method, I did an initial 10 second stir before the 30 second mark, and a second after 1:00 minute, flipping and depressing the plunger at 1:30.
With Jen’s first Quest roast, this method produced intense fruit flavors like melon, peach, blackberry, cantaloupe, blueberry jam, honeydew, all balanced by brown sugar, cinnamon, and even apple pie. This cup was really stellar, and the panel’s notes abounded with complex flavor descriptors and exclamation points.
On the second Quest roast, many of us were overwhelmed by florals: violet, jasmine, lily, and chrysanthemum all made their way into our notes. This brew also had really complex sweetness, like sassafras, tamarind, and cinnamon, while the clean sweet mouthfeel made us all think of things like gummy bears and JELL-O.
This coffee is a wild (and delicious) ride, and would be fascinating to taste across a number of brew methods, from pour over to full immersion to espresso. Its clean mouthfeel and incredible fruit notes make it super unique and worth tasting. Get a box and see for yourself!