Peru Challhuamayo Finca Tasta Honey Crown Jewel

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Finca Tasta returns to our menu this year in spectacular form, in three iterations: a lovely Yellow Caturra, a Red Catuaí, and this delicious honey process, each available in very limited quantities.

The project hails from Peru’s central forest, and is run by siblings Edith and Ivan. The farm was their late mother’s project, and the two have since taken over operations. In the last handful of years they’ve refined their processing methods and expanded their operations, and hope to become a beacon of specialty coffee and sustainability. This year their harvest is quite a bit smaller than last, but the quality has increased by leaps and bounds.

Edith and her brother Ivan are leading by example, focusing on sustainability and independence by diversifying crops beyond just coffee to include food for themselves and their workers. They harvest three varieties of plantains, yucca, beans, corn, tomatoes, pine trees, sugarcane. This year they are planting raspberries, blackberries, and pumpkins.

They hope to inspire other farmers to move away from monoculture and back towards a model of truly sustainable agriculture. Their commitment to environmental protection is runs so deep that they leave nine of their twenty-three hectares of land completely wild to protect native animals like deer, monkeys, and native birds. They also include a deer and a tree in their logo as a symbol of their dedication to the creatures and ecosystems they are committed to protecting.

The obvious energy behind the project is palpable when speaking with Edith, as our own Mayra Orellana-Powell recently did in an interview (you can read that interview here). Her passion for continuing and improving the work of her mother and engaging with her community is clear. She’s an active member of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, and has set up outreach events locally to engage residents in and around Callhuamayo with events like specialty coffee workshops.

This honey processed Peru from Finca Tasta is relatively large in screen size (16 and up), with a slightly high density, and nice stable water activity and slightly low moisture readings. It will likely be an easy green coffee to store and roast.

The lot is comprised of Caturra and Catuaí, classic American varieties, 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. The short stature of these two cultivars makes them resistant to wind, and easier to plant densely and harvest, though they are susceptible to rust and other common coffee afflictions.

This coffee underwent “Honey” processing, a form of semi-washing (or “pulped natural” if you prefer) wherein the cherry skin and most of the fruit are stripped away and the remaining sticky mucilage is left to dry on the pergamino. Skipping the washing and controlled fermentation stages tends to increase fruity flavors in the coffee, and has the added benefit of saving water and time.

This week was quite a busy one for The Crown and we were unable to get access to our other roasting machines so we roasted two profiles on the Ikawa and then proceeded to roast multiple batches of our favorite one. This honey processed coffee from Peru was so incredibly sweet, fruity, and clean. The green metrics looked great on all accounts: high density, average water activity, good moisture, and a large screen size. I decided to use the same two profiles that I had used on our other offering from Finca Tasta, the Yellow Caturrra, to see how they would compare. I took one of my profiles that I use mostly for smaller screen sizes and shortened the drying stage so that the coffee would have more time for non-enzymatic browning. This alteration lowered my first crack temperature by almost 10 degrees Fahrenheit. This new range of first crack temperatures are more inline with what I might see on my Probatino drum roaster.

I decided to try out two roasts with the same temperature profile, but slightly different fan speed settings. Roast one descends from 80% to 65% at three quarters of the way between yellowing and the end of the roast. Roast two descends from 80% to 65% at the midway point between yellowing and the end of the roast. While there was more of a divergence between the heat profiles with CJ1250, This honey coffee was delightfully consistent with a minimal difference. Roast one did have slightly higher heat and my first crack temperatures on the honey coffee were much higher by 4-5 degrees Fahrenheit. At first crack, we can see a slight increase in heat resulting in a small spike in Roast two, which also occurred in our fully washed sample as well.

On the cupping table Roast one was very bright with lots of citric and malic acidity. There was also a dry white wine flavor that was pleasing to some and astringent to others. Roast two had lots of juicy fruit flavors like mango, peach, and pineapple. The sugar browning notes tasted like a nice buttery toffee and the mouthfeel was smooth. The team was split down the middle on preference. Both roasts had very nice attributes, which speaks volumes for the quality of this coffee. This is my favorite harvest so far from our friends at Finca Tasta.

I’m a huge fan of this coffee. While trends show young professionals leaving the countryside to work in the cities, Edith and Ivan made the atypical choice to go back to the rainforest and care for the land and the ecosystems in a holistic way. Farms like Finca Tasta give me hope for the future of South American coffee farmers: there is a new generation investing in growing coffee sustainably.

I brewed this honey-processed coffee on the Kalita; on the cupping table there were a lot of cocoa sweetness, but I hoped to pull out more acidity in the pour over method. The result was a really delightful cup, with distinct peach tea and cascara notes. These were balanced by fig, white grape, honey, raisin, and hazelnut, making for a really clean, unique, and comforting cup.