Colombia La Unión María Omaira Meza Urbano Double Fermented Gesha Crown Jewel

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Interview by Mayra Orellana-Powell with additional words by Chris Kornman

“The day starts at 5:30am with a cup of very good coffee,” María Omaira Meza Urbano told us.

And very good coffee indeed! We were thrilled at the flavors of this lot, from piña colada to rose and strawberry and blood orange and passionfruit. It’s a wonderful harmony of cultivar specific flavors and unconventional processing methods and terroir.

“We only pick mature cherries and leave them to rest for 24 hours before depulping,” she told us about the process. “Then we leave the coffee to ferment for 42 hours and then wash the coffee but only once so that some of the mucilage remains on the parchment. Then we dry the coffee in the sun on raised beds from 7am to 11am and from 2pm to 4pm, and we move the coffee every hour. After 15 days the coffee is finished drying and stored on wood pallets in jute bags.”

Even though she is growing coffee on just two hectares, the farm requires constant maintenance. “I personally make sure that there are 3 meals provided and supervise the work, and at the same time, I take care of my house and feed the farm animals.”

“My entire life has been dedicated to working with coffee, from seed selection to cultivating and harvest, always looking for better quality and better earnings for all the work that the process requires,” María Omaira Meza Urbano proudly told us.

“My parents were coffee producers and since I was a child I helped on the farm and from there I have always liked everything about cultivating coffee.  When I was 14 years old my father gave me a plot of land and I planted 2500 Colombia and Caturra coffee trees.”

After a renovation two-and-a-half years ago, Doña Meza introduced Gesha seeds to the farm. Working with the FNC, Colombia’s Coffee Farmer’s Federation, this year as they have been quietly developing a microlot specialty coffee selection program for a few years now, she sold ~450lb lot of double-fermented Gesha grown by María Omaira Meza Urbano. Harvesting the 2 hectares of coffee yields just 15x 70kg bags of coffee annually.

Omaria had some special words for other producers: “Women have the same abilities to produce specialty coffee of high quality. They should take the initiative and not let obstacles stop them. We can forge our own future and create work for others in our society, we can learn everyday and take advantage of the advice from experts and those who have had good experiences in this work. The most important, without reference to gender, is to look for ways to produce quality and not quantity.”

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman

Omaira Meza’s unconventional processing method has not left much of a mark on the green coffee itself, other than a slightly paler than average appearance and perhaps a slightly lower density than average. The seeds are mostly oblong in typical Gesha style, and are nicely sorted into about 80% screens 16-18. The density is quite modest, surprisingly, and between this and the low moisture, the coffee will likely appreciate a gentler approach, at least during the early stages of roasting.

Gesha’s story is well known, having made its way from selections in western Ethiopia in the 1930s to Central America by the 1950s and 60s, before being recognized for its quality potential on the Petersons’ coffee farm, Hacienda La Esmeralda, in 2004. The tree was in fact first prized for its resistance to rust (a status which it has since lost), and multiple collections were made. The reference sample from CATIE’s original 1953 collection (labelled T2722) is not a perfect match to many trees now labelled “Ge(i)sha” in the field (undoubtedly at least partly related to its selection from the heart of coffee’s genetic diversity). It seems likely that the cultivar’s genetic diversity, combined with its explosion of popularity over the last 15 years, contributes to a broadening range of flavor profiles and qualities.

Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman

We’ve updated our V2 Ikawa Pro machines with the latest Firmware version (24) and run on “closed loop” setting. Our roasters underwent full service in October of 2018 which included replacement heating elements and an updated PT 1000 temperature sensor, and were recalibrated in September 2019.

This coffee responded very predictably on this profile, nailing both the color change at exactly 3:00 / 330F and first crack with exactly 70 seconds of development. Juicy and on-point for flavor profile, the cupping showed off the blackberry jam and grape soda flavors with passionfruit, strawberry, jasmine, and vanilla all in the mix.

Roast Analysis by Candice Madison

Two geshas, you say? Why, thank you, is my response! Of the four Colombian coffees released this week, this is our second Gesha and with a very different expression of this variety, and not, I believe, due to the unconventional processing of Ms Meza’s Crown Jewel.

Although my approach to this coffee was almost identical to the roast profile for Gabriel Muñoz shade-dried offering, the result in the cup was completely different. So low and slow at the beginning, although the drop temperature seems low at 343F, this was the last roast of the day. After 5 batches in quick succession, our little Probie tends to get very hot, and I knew that the drop would be less aggressive. The coffee turned at 205 and proceeded to march quite ably on its own, up the first half or so or of the roast curve. I had thought it a mistake to give a little extra gas to CJ1325 at this point previously, but for this double-fermented offering, it was definitely the right move.

As I didn’t want the coffee to take on too much heat and the roast to fly away from me, I lowered the gas from 3 to 2.5 and kept it there until first crack. At this point I lowered the gas and let the coffee to coast through PCD (post-crack development). Finishing the roast at 401F, I, again, let the roast achieve a higher than is usual (for me) PCD ratio of 17%.

Honestly, I’m betting all my money on this coffee in the coming years. Maria Omaira Meza’s trees are just under 3 years old and the result on the cupping table is really delightful. This coffee, for me, is one that I look forward to having the opportunity to taste as it comes into its own. That being said, it is stunning right now; the cup is crammed full of deliciousness! Cranberry, strawberry, rose hips, red grape, tangerine, red currant, milk chocolate – wait, I’m not done! – vanilla, roasted almonds, apple juice and purple berries, all topped off with the sensation of sweet cream and a syrupy body. What is not to love? My advice would be to drink it any and every which way you can, just make sure to put it in your mouth!

Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman

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 and my updated post here.

This week brought us four very dense coffees from Colombia. María Omaira Meza Urbano produced what I’m calling (internally at least) the beaujolais nouveau of Geshas. Her coffee shrubs are only 3 years into growth, so her coffee is bound to get even more expressive and deeply sweet as the plants mature. Keep an eye on this one for future harvests, too.

Since this coffee was so dense, I decided to hit it with a lot of heat right from the get go. Keeping my heat application at 9.5A, I charged 125g of this coffee at 391.5F – slightly high for the Quest, but not outside of the usual. The difference in my approach this week is that I waited to introduce airflow until about 3:00 / 290F, where I usually begin increasing fan speed around Turning Point. At 5:40 / 370F I ramped up the airflow to the maximum, and dropped heat to 7.5A immediately afterwards at 5:55 / 375F. Shortly after this, I decided to drop heat application completely to 0A at 6:20 / 385F as the coffee entered First Crack at pace.

Like the previous Gesha I roasted this week, this coffee took on heat easily. I would certainly recommend approaching these coffees with a little caution and gentle heat application, especially through Maillard. I ended up dropping this coffee at 7:45 / 408.3F with about 17% of the roast spent in post-crack development. Not too shabby.

The results on the cupping table were good, and definitely harkened back to my earlier descriptor of ‘beaujolais nouveau’ for all of you out there that enjoy wine. Juicy pear, ripe cherry, and blood orange came out on top, and were backed by a solid caramel sweetness. I think more time in Maillard would have brought out even more nuance in this coffee. Give this one a shot; coffees like one this are what make me excited for New Year’s arrivals from Colombia!

Brew Analysis by Alex Taylor

What a way to start off the new year! Four new Crown Jewels in our first week back at it, and all of them delicious coffees from Colombia. Rather than working on completely different brews and methods for each of these four coffees, I decided to pick two brew recipes and follow them for all four CJ’s, hopefully allowing more of the nuance between these coffees to shine through for you. You can find the analysis for this week’s other additions on their respective pages, CJ1323, CJ1324, and CJ1325. But for now, back to this selection from María Omaira Meza Urbano.

I wanted to give the coffee the opportunity to show its different sides, so I planned for one brew via a pourover (a v60 in this case), and another on the Aeropress. It’s been a minute since I last brewed on an Aeropress, but my warm-up brews were encouraging, so I stuck with it. I’m hoping to include more brews on the Aeropress and other immersion or hybrid brewers this year, for diversity’s sake. I could brew and write about conical pour-over brews until I’m blue in the face, but Crown Jewel analysis isn’t for me, it’s for you! Anyway…

I was a little concerned that we might start to experience some palate fatigue as we tasted this, the fourth coffee from Colombia in a row, but to me this coffee really stood out, and the others agreed. The v60 brew was packed with some really incredible sweetness, and lots of darker fruit notes than we found in the other coffees. We tasted black cherry, plum, passionfruit, blood orange, raisin, dark chocolate, and cherry cordial. The Aeropress brew had a similar flavor profile but was actually a little juicier, and had a longer finish! We found additional notes of pear, papaya, melon, grapefruit, toasted almond, and even more dark chocolate. Overall, this coffee was incredibly sweet, rich, and decadent without being overwhelming. Truly a great example of a well balanced coffee. Try it for yourself, and I think you’ll agree!