“Stopped in our tracks” might be an appropriate description of the effect this coffee had on our first analysis table. Such lush tropical fruit notes and zesty acidity accompanied by delightful sweetness and velvety mouthfeel, we kept coming back to this coffee from Central Guatemala to have another taste.
Most look to western Guatemala for coffee, but there is something exciting to offer right in the middle of the country. Finca San Lorenzo is a 225 acre estate in the less traveled department of Alta Verapaz near the city of Coban. Luis Valdés, affectionately called “Wicho” to distinguish him from his father and grandfather who are also named Luis, has been running San Lorenzo since 1999.
Wicho started following his father around the estate when he was young and later earned an agricultural engineering degree before taking the reins. Constant rain year-round at Finca San Lorenzo creates some unique challenges. Wicho has used his life-long experience and education to overcome this obstacle. The entire estate is terraced to protect against erosion during the heavy summer rains. Wicho has also created several different drying strategies (raised beds and mechanical dryers) to cope with the unpredictability of winter rains during the harvest.
Dried parchment is taken to San Isabel, a dry mill in Guatemala City. San Isabel is equipped with multiple pieces of equipment to sort green coffee typical in most dry mills, such as, gravity beds, screens and electronic eyes. The mill also has a piece of equipment called a catadora, which is placed immediately after the dehuller and operates like a wind channel to remove broken and less dense coffee beans. Mild weather in Guatemala City provides ideal conditions for storing parchment in the warehouse until it is time to export.
We’re pleased to offer this coffee both as full sized 69kg bags and 10kg Crown Jewel boxes; but I’d expect at this impressive quality they won’t last long.
Yet another shining example of exceptional post-harvest handling. This coffee is perfectly dried and of high density and classic 16-19 screen size, in line with standard Central American “EP” prep standards. The bulk of the coffee is quite large in size, perhaps a contribution of the hybrids grown on the farm.
In addition to legacy Bourbon and heritage dwarf cultivars Caturra and Catuaí, Wicho is also growing some introgressed hybrids to improve the disease and climate resilience of his farm, a wise choice in wet climates that can stimulate the proliferation of fungi like rust. On San Lorenzo, Sarchimors (a group of hybrids, a cross of Costa Rican dwarf Bourbon mutation and the Timor Hybrid) fill in the gap. Obata, one of Wicho’s selections, is a Brazilian-bred Sarchimor released in 2000.
Fresh out of the gates with a newly tweaked Ikawa profile for incoming Central American coffees, this coffee roasted up really nicely and offered a lot of depth at this sample roast style profile; probably the best performance of any coffee roasted to the new curve this week. The San Lorenzo’s acidity was sharp as a tack, yet complimented nicely by plenty of sweetness and tropical fruit flavors. It’s nothing but a pleasure to taste this Guatemala, and this roast showed of the coffee’s potential admirably.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: RC ck 6.5m afmod 6.2019 3rd
Not one person was able to adhere to the rule of silence when we cupped this coffee. There were audible gasps, mmmm’s and a whistle too! Just a stunning coffee from Luis ‘Wicho’ Valdés’ farm in central Guatemala. I’ll be the first to say that I had no idea that a washed coffee from Guatemala could be so distinctly stunning, superseding the presumed origin characteristics and vaulting itself into first place of all the coffees I’ve had the pleasure to taste from this country. As ever, I checked the green coffee analysis completed by Chris before beginning my roast. A drier, dense coffee, such as this presented the usual usual thought of ‘needs heat, but must be delicate.’
My usual tack is to vacillate from a low heat application at the start of the roast, to a higher/the highest heat application just after the turning point. I started the roast low and slow, 360F/2 gas and moved up to 3 gas, just after the turn. I didn’t start to step down off the gas until almost 2 minutes after coloring. The coffee was proceeding steadily and smelling wonderful in the trier. I stepped down incrementally on the gas from 3 to 2.75 to 2.5 before first crack. By doing so, and finishing my final gas change almost a minute after first crack, allowed me to achieve the longer Maillard phase I’d wanted, and still drop the coffee at 16% PCD ratio.
The resulting cup was, for the want of a better word, a banger! Just wow – tropical fruit flavors of pineapple, matched those of green apple and tangerine. The sugary notes of demerara sugar, roasted hazelnut and vanilla were offset by a lovely bittersweet chocolate flavor. Lemon and lime acidity made everything sparkle and the velvety, silky, round and smooth body was the cherry on top! This is a menu star. I would feature it on my pourover menu. To quote Rihanna, it ‘shine[s] bright like a diamond!’
It’s been a busy week with lots of new Crown Jewels to analyze, so we’ve been doing quite a bit of multitasking and analyzing the brews in the Tasting Room throughout the day (one more reason to visit our tasting room: more opportunities to taste all these delicious coffees we’re constantly talking about). I’ve been thinking about pulse pours lately and they way in which the number of pulse pours and your pour rate affect your brew, so I decided to use the brew analysis for this coffee as a brief, informal exercise on pulse pours. Instead of manipulating the brew ratio or grind setting like I usually do, I made the first brew with a single, continuous pour, and the second brew with a series or shorter, intermittent pulse pours (both brews also included a 30 second bloom/preinfusion).
As expected, the first brew finished much faster than the second, and had a lower TDS and extraction yield. Honestly, this cup wasn’t bad, just a little flat. It had the light, pleasant acidity that made our faces light up on the initial cupping table, but lacked a lot of the sweetness and body that we were hoping for out of this coffee. We tasted lots of crisp green fruit (apples, grapes, etc) as well as some brown sugar and vanilla. The second brew finished draining in just over 4 minutes, which was a little longer than I was hoping for, but the end result was delicious! This cup featured tons of sparkling, crisp acidity with notes of pineapple, honeydew, green grapes, lime and sauvignon blanc, and a delightfully floral, juicy finish that lingered for days. This Guatemalan coffee would make a great addition to any menu in need of some sparkle!