Back in its third iteration as a Crown Jewel, this Sudan Rume variety is nearly always a show-stopper. This year it comes to us fully washed, and maintains the distinctive cardamom note we detected in last year’s crop, with impressive cleanliness and a complex florality unmatched even in many Geshas we’ve seen of late. It is very sweet, and underlying its characteristic chamomile and spice are layers of soft citrus and stone fruits. It is a dense cup, but immensely pleasurable, offering unique flavors with each sip.
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.
Sudan Rume (sometimes written “Rume Sudan”) is an ancient variety, originally hailing from what is now South Sudan’s Boma plateau. Not far from the border of Ethiopia, coffee still grows wild in the forest throughout the region, one of the likely the origins of Arabica. The Sudan Rume variety is primarily cultivated as a source of genetic material for inclusion in hybrids (popular examples include Kenya’s SL-28 and the Centroamericano F1 hybrid); the coffee’s productivity is very limited and as a result has generally not been grown commercially. Interestingly, compared with other “pure” Arabica strains, most lines of Sudan Rume show surprising resistance to afflictions like Coffee Berry Disease and Rust.
The density and moisture content readings of this Sudan Rume bely how unique the coffee really is. The oblong shape of the coffee causes the seeds to fall through smaller screens even though they appear relatively large in size, and also reduces the measured free settled density, clocking in only slightly above average. The moisture looks fairly normal, but the water activity is somewhat higher than average — not uncommon for coffees from CGLE. Keep an eye out for scorching and/or tipping; you’ll need to pay close attention in the roaster with this special coffee but it will be well worth it.
It is another bang up year for the Sudan Rume from our friends at Café Granja la Esperanza. Before working at Royal I had little experience with this rare variety, but now roasting this coffee feels like an old friend. The coffee is large, moderately dense, with high moisture and moderately high water activity. Because of the size and moisture content, I knew that I would need to choose a profile that would give this coffee ample time to develop in the roaster. High water activity can also result in high first crack temperatures as well. Knowing the character of this coffee, I also wanted to keep it as short as possible so that I can get the maximum floral and citrus notes which are unique to this variety.
I decided to use my 5:15 profile, but the Ikawa is an efficient roaster and made quick work of reaching the yellowing stage by 1:37. First crack also surprised me by happening much earlier than I expected at 4:04 and 405F. This resulted in a longer than normal post crack development time of 1:26 before the roast was finished. On the cupping table we were rewarded with the familiar cardamom that I consider a hallmark of this coffee. The body was sweet and medium light with the base notes tasting of caramel and apricot.
If I had the opportunity to roast this coffee again, I would use the same profile but shorten the overall time to 4:50 and reduce the post crack development time. Reducing this time may increase some of the lemon and orange citrus notes that faded to the background. I hope you get a chance to roast this amazing coffee or at least buy a bag from the roaster who was lucky enough to get it.
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.
With a charge temperature of 376F and a batch size of 200g, I started the roast with close to maximum heat and very low fan speed. With this setting it took 5:12 to reach yellowing, which feels like a long time for me with such a small roaster. At 381F, the Sudan Rume began to crack at an average temperature for the Quest M3s. With First Crack happening so quickly after yellowing, I was worried that there may not have been enough time for Maillard reactions and the formation of organic acids in the coffee. I was able to slow down the roast dramatically by increasing the fan speed. I recommend doing this instead of just decreasing the amperage because it is an easier way to avoid stalling. It also is crucial for removing chaff and smoke from the drum.
On the cupping table this coffee had more citrus qualities compared to the Ikawa roast, but the amount of florals in the cup suffered. Fortunately, the coffee was still very sweet and recognizably a Sudan Rume. To roast this coffee again on the Quest, I think it would be best to find a way to reduce the drying stage, whether that is by using a higher charge temperature or turning the fan speed off for the first few minutes of the roast.
This Sudan Rume from Valle de Cauca is so complex and sweet that there’s really no wrong way to brew it. Curious about how it would taste at a low ratio brew, I tossed it in an Aeropress at a 1:12 ratio using grind size 6 on the EK 43. With the inverted method, I poured all 220g of brew water into the Aeropress and stirred vigorously to make sure everything was saturated. At 1:00 minute I stirred again to break up the crust and re-incorporate the floaters, then flipped the device over and began to depress the plunger at 1:30, which created a 1:42 minute total brew time.
This brew was packed full of fun flavors: watermelon, cardamom, raspberry, Grains of Selim, and lemongrass, with caramel and chocolate sweetness. But with just 17.4% extracion, I wondered what it would taste like pushed a little further. Still using the Aeropress, I lowered my dose to 15 grams and extended total brew time to get a little more out of this coffee. This brew was a little more hazy and mild, with notes of vanilla, sage, raspberry, nectarine, and white wine. Still delicious, but pretty different than the first iteration.
Finally, I tried a pour over, breaking out the Kalita Wave and pulling it up to a 1:16 ratio. This cup was incredibly, ridiculously sweet, with tons of sugar, vanilla, and cookie flavors met by ginger, sage, pecan, clove, and orange complexity. This funny little bean offers nearly endless possibilities of flavor, and will present a slightly different profile with every brew method. However throughout all there will be a running theme of delicate cardamom and ginger, vanilla, and clean fruit sweetness.