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It’s not every day you get the opportunity to roast coffee grown by a doctor. However, with this coffee, from from farmer Dr. Carlos Roberto Serrano Roa and his farm, Finca Severa, you can do just that.
We were thrilled with this coffee on the cupping table, noting a zesty citric acidity, and some tomato-like Kenya-esque qualities, supported by strong notes of blackberry, cranberry, and currant.
Sourced from a family-owned estate located within the municipality of Santa Cruz Barillas, in the department of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Finca Severa was established by Dr. Carlos Roberto Serrano Roa in 1969 and named after his mother Severa. Over the past few decades, Dr. Serrano and his family have developed 111 of the 135 acre estate for coffee cultivation and preserved the remaining portion with natural forest and a pristine water source that is used for processing coffee.
Finca Severa has its own mill where cherry selection, depulping, fermentation, and drying are meticulously executed. Wastewater is treated before it is returned to the environment and coffee pulp is converted into organic fertilizer and returned to the coffee plants. Great care is taken to provide housing, healthcare, education, and social activities to those who work at the estate because the remoteness of the Finca Severa makes these essential amenities an important part of ensuring a dignified quality of life at the estate.
Very solid green figures here, a respectable European Prep style sample at mostly 16-19 screen sizes, with a slightly higher than average density and modestly low moisture and water activity figures. Precision processing of this type has become de rigueur for Crown Jewels, which belies its rarity. We’re privileged to work with producers who consistently strive for — and achieve — high degrees of excellence.
Dr. Serrano has a nicely diversified menu of cultivars in his farm, including the well regarded dwarf Bourbon mutation Caturra which evolved in Brazil, and its less frequently seen Guatemalan counterpart Pache, first reported in 1949. There are also two introgressed hybrids in the mix, protection from the ever-present risk of rust and other afflictions traditional arabica varieties are prone to. Here, we have Sarchimor (the dwarf Costa Rican Villa Sarchi mutation crossed with the Timor Hybrid) and Anacafe 14, named for the coffee agronomy research and support organization in Guatemala.
Anacafe 14 belongs to the Catimor (Caturra x Timor Hybrid) group, but was then crossed with Pacamara (a hybrid of dwarf Pacas with giant Maragogipe); purportedly the inspiration for the cultivar came from a spontaneous occurrence. In either case, the result of this cross is a varied generation, from which selections were made for the best plants, and then non-uniform seeds bulked and distributed. The result is a genetically complex field of trees, capable of better resistance to disease but with a higher percentage of Arabica than traditional Catimor cultivars.
With Candice away on vacation this week, it’s my turn to roast some new Crown Jewels on the Probatino! We’ve had some delicious new Guatemalan landing lately, and this particular coffee looked like the next in line. The green coffee here is on the larger side, although not overly dense, so I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary when it came time to roast. I charged the coffee at 360 with low gas until turning point, at which I turned up the gas to push the coffee through the rest of drying and Maillard. I made my next gas adjustment around the middle of Maillard to slow the coffee’s roll, so to speak, and another adjustment just before first crack started. The coffee responded to my heat adjustments nicely, so I was able to end the roast just under 7 minutes, with 1:13 (17.5%) post crack development and an end temperature of 401F.
I was happy with how my roast of this coffee had gone, simply based on my experience roasting it, but I was even happier when I tasted the coffee on the cupping table. We tasted blackberry, watermelon, black currant, plum, cola, and dark chocolate. And what a juicy finish! This coffee really shines as an example of what high-quality coffee from Guatemala can taste like. Grab some while you can – I’m sure it’ll exceed your expectations no matter how you prepare it!
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Quest roasts. Generally, I’ll allow the machine to warm up for 15 minutes until my environmental temperature reading is at least 250F, weigh out 150g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here.
I tried a new approach on both of the coffees we’re releasing this week (the other is a full natural Ethiopian selection from Bedhatu Jibicho). In an effort to spend more time in post-crack development without hitting an end temperature over 400F, I added lots of heat right from the beginning of the roast.
With this particularly delicious Guatemalan coffee, I started with a charge temperature of 390F, and cranked the heat up as high as it would go (which happens to be about 11A on our dial). I also opened the back of the roaster to stymie airflow. At 2:05/245F, I closed the back of the roaster, and I engaged the fan all the way to full at 2:30/265F. Just after drying phase ended, I turned heat application back to 7.5A at 3:20/313F, and slowly reduced to 0A 4:10/346F. I reached crack rather early at 5:38/388F, but my rate of rise was crashing appropriately, and I was able to stay in post-crack development for 1:24 – about 20% PCD. My end temperature was 398F.
Huge sugars and sweet almond paste came through on the cupping table, but the florality that Alex achieved in his roasts wasn’t present. I have a feeling that spending less time in the drying phase (a difficult proposition on the Quest, but not impossible), and more time in Maillard would have helped. However, to my sweet tooth, this was a perfectly acceptable roast, and would be excellent for full immersion brewing and espresso. Sugar bomb!
The last of the Crown Jewels I had roasted this week, this Guatemalan coffee was bound to be a winner. For my first brew, I pulled out the Phoenix c70, and for the second I used our Origami dripper. I’ve been experiencing nice quick brew times on the Origami dripper lately, so for this brew I wanted to try using smaller pulse pours, letting the water drain almost completely to the coffee bed before starting the next pulse. I kept things pretty standard with my c70 brew, as a control of sorts. The smaller, more frequent pulses led to more agitation and a slightly extended brew time, which then yielded a higher TDS and extraction. 1.67 TDS and 23.02% extraction are both pretty high numbers for a 1:15 pourover!
Both cups were delicious, but differed in exactly the way I expected, which is always reassuring. The c70 brew definitely had a lighter, crisper body with a hint of florality. We tasted orange zest, pecan, apple, meyer lemon, and dark chocolate. A wonderfully complex and balanced cup. The brew prepared with smaller pulse pours had an incredibly rich body and taste profile. Seriously, this was one of the sweetest cups of coffee I’ve ever tasted. If you could drink apple cobbler, it would be this coffee. We tasted apple, caramel, nougat, cinnamon, bakers chocolate, and more, with a super syrupy body.
I was pleasantly surprised by how well this coffee performed with two very different brew and flavor profiles. I think this coffee could easily shine as a bright, light, crisp pourover or a stunningly sweet batch brew option for those looking to take their batch brew to the next level. If you’re thinking about buying this coffee, don’t wait! You won’t be disappointed.