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intro

Intro by Chris Kornman

Coffee Trader Rosi Quiñones deserves a great deal of credit for sourcing and purchasing a little bit of really excellent coffee from Ecuador this season.

This coffee comes with a pedigree: it took first place in two separate competitions in 2019: Best of Quito-Pichincha and it was used in the Ecuadorian National Barista Competition by the first place winner. It slayed on the cupping table and we’re so proud to feature it here as an exclusive and very limited Crown Jewel.

Juicy flavors of blackberry and lime with support from notes like plum, guava, and plantain draw you in and just won’t let you go. There is copious sweetness, matched in kind by a slippery and unsubtle viscosity like melting dark chocolate. It’s wild and wonderful and finishes with unexpected elegance, and you really just have to try it for yourself.

Farmer Galo Fernando Morales Flores, his wife Maria Alexandra Rivera, and his family grew the coffee on their 70-hectare plot of land in the community of San José de Minas in Pichincha, a small town in the mountains a short ways north of Quito. Besides coffee, the Morales family grow coffee, sugar cane, guanábana (soursop), corn, beans, and oranges on the farm they call Finca Cruz Loma, named for an intersection of road atop the hill.

Don Galo went a little nuts with fermentation technique, though I have to say I’m impressed with the results. Doña Maria explained the details to us. “Once harvested, the coffee is floated. This batch of coffee [ferments] approximately 90 to 94 hours, after this time a pulping process is carried out and it is fermented with a little water of 10 to 12 hours, after this time it is washed and placed in canopies to a pre-drying under shade for 3 days, then placed in canopies for an additional 15 days. Once dried, it is stored in grainpro bags, afterwards the hulling process is performed.”

Catch all that? Fermented both in cherry and parchment, also fully washed with a two-tiered and extended drying period on raised beds under canopy. Thrilling stuff, and what results!

green

Green Analysis by Chris Kornman

This Ecuadoran coffee comes to us with very trim looking physical specs. It’s quite high in density, moderately low in both water activity and moisture, and has a roughly 90% 15-18 screen size range, roughly equivalent to a Central American EP.

Don Galo is growing Caturra, and improved Typica, and Sidra trees, each a different legacy cultivar. Typica was the world’s first commercial arabica variety grown outside of Ethiopia and Yemen, and sports elongated leaves and seeds. While I don’t know the exact nature of the improvement, most often this designation indicates the trees were bred and then subsequent generations selected and perhaps backcrossed for desirable traits such as higher yields or quality, for example.

Caturra is perhaps one of the most popular legacy cultivars in the Americas. It is a a single-gene mutation of Bourbon, first reported in 1937 along the border of Minas Gerais and Espírito Santo. Its primary mutation characteristic is its short stature, which allows for denser planting and easier picking. It is a parent of both Catuaí and the Catimor group.

Lastly, Sidra is a distinctly Ecuadorian cultivar, and most of the information available seems to indicate it is a spontaneous hybrid of Red Bourbon and Typica (not unlike Mundo Novo). While it’s made its way elsewhere on the planet, it is often credited for the high quality of coffees from Ecuador (though I’d submit that perhaps myriad other factors contribute, including the work of the farmer in care and processing).

taste

ikawa

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.

I’m pleased to say after this week’s roasts and cupping that my confidence level is pretty high in the sample roast profiles I’ve been working on for the past few months on the Ikawa. We cupped both this Ecuador and CJ1331 from Rwanda against Candice’s Probatino roasts. The Ikawa roasts were cupped blind against the Probatino control, and scored on our deviation production cupping sheet across five attributes: sweetness, acidity, viscosity (body), flavor, and aftertaste.

Both of the Ikawa roasts cupped very close to the Probatino control. SR-0166 (in blue) followed a 6-minute sample roast curve, while the roast in red, SR-0167, extended Maillard development by about 30 seconds and began at a lower charge temperature. SR-0166 presented a bright and juicy cup with good sweetness but a little thinner in body. SR-0167 went full force with a zesty acidity and sugary sweetness, offering a high intensity cup for those seeking less subtlety. The panel agreed that both were enjoyable, but was split on hedonistic preference.

You can download the profiles to your Ikawa Pro app here:

Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0

Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0

probatino

Roast Analysis by Candice Madison

I have been very unlucky in my coffee career, I now realise! I have possibly had one, maybe two (?) other encounters with an Ecuadorian coffee prior to my tenure at Royal. To be honest I don’t remember either experience, which is unusual for me when I’m less familiar with an origin. That being said, I was rather intrigued to cup this offering from Don Galo.

Looking at the specs of this high density coffee, I recognised that both the water activity and moisture levels were reasonably low, but comparable to most of the coffees I have been analysing this week. The reasonable spread around the median of screen sizes also led me to approach this coffee with my usual protocol metrics; dropping the charge of 400g at 360 and keeping the roast to between 6-8 minutes (unless the coffee dictates otherwise!).

Then, whilst proceeding fairly to standard, with a low gas (2) at the start, a higher gas (3) at the turn and stepping off of the gas twice: just after Maillard, and back down to a minimum gas application (2), just after first crack was recorded at 391F. The coffee rose 10 degrees in the minute or so between first crack and being dropped from the drum into the cooling tray, achieving a more than respectable 18% post-crack development.

I haven’t roasted an analysis coffee with such a significant post-crack development for analysis, at least if I have, it doesn’t come to mind. So I was a little apprehensive when approaching the cups. But why did I worry? When such impressive work is done by farmers such as Galo Fernando Morales Flores, his wife Maria Alexandra Rivera, and their family to achieve and maintain incredible quality standards, the reward is found right where it should be, in our cups. Overwhelming notes of fresh pear, brown sugar and chocolate left me reminiscing about the pear and chocolate tarts from my favourite patisserie in Paris. Cinnamon, honey and jasmine all worked to elevate this solid, crowd-pleasing concert of flavor notes. Notes of cranberry and red apple lent a soft acidity to this round, smooth coffee. A sweet pour-over end to your Sunday brunch, perhaps?

quest m3s

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.

In my entire tenure at Royal Coffee, I have had the chance to taste perhaps 4 or 5 coffees from Ecuador, and none have been so sweet as this one. Aside from being a rare origin, the flavor profile of this coffee is something to note as well. Unique processing and cultivars have lent this coffee thick tropical fruit sweetness, but not in the pulpy sense; look for fruit lying just beyond a layer of heavy sugars from this dense coffee.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this coffee. Especially since I have never roasted an Ecuador or a Sidra coffee myself. It wasn’t so hard to get a hang of, however, and it definitely tasted nice on the table afterwards.

I approached this coffee with my new standard methodology – full heat application and airflow until Turning Point, then a reduction in heat and a cutoff on the airflow. At 2:28 / 270F I returned airflow to the ‘3’ point on the dial, and quickly hit the coffee with full airflow at 2:55 / 290F. This coffee was really chugging along! Differently than my other roasts this week, I didn’t diminish heat application just before Maillard, but rather kept the heat at 9.5A throughout. I knew this coffee was a bit more dense, and also had a wider screen size distribution to hold back the steady heat application.

I reached First Crack at 6:18 / 383F – a bit lower than standard. I was able to get a bit more time in Maillard than in drying, and my rate of rise was about 14 degrees/min into First Crack – a nice, slow approach. I dropped the batch at 7:45 / 399F for a whopping 1:26 in post-Crack development, and about 18.7% of the roast cycle.

Floral tropical fruit, cherry, raisin, and cranberry all featured on a sturdy cocoa and vanilla backbone. This coffee is a solid choice for all sorts of preparation methods, and will be sure to be a crowd pleaser. It’s definitely a Crown pleaser, tell you what.

brew

Brew Analysis by Alex Taylor

This coffee’s been generating lots of buzz around The Crown! From the day it landed, we’ve been hearing about the processing, and loads of positive feedback from each cupping along the way! For the brew analysis, I used our Origami dripper, with a 1:15 brew ratio. The brew was a touch slower than most, finishing at 4:10, but giving me a nice 1.71 TDS and 22.29% extraction. That TDS number is a little higher than I prefer to actually drink, but it often makes it a little easier for us to pick out all the nuances of a coffee in the analysis stage.

Here at the end of the analysis process, this coffee continued to be a crowd pleaser! The blackberry and lime acidity up front reminded me of the blackberry lemonade we served at The Crown over the summer, and the honey and chocolate sweetness rounded out the cup wonderfully. This is a really killer drip coffee and could make for a pretty fun espresso for someone looking for a coffee to shine as a single origin option.

Origin Information

Grower
Galo Fernando Morales Flores, Finca Cruz Loma
Variety
Caturra, Sidra, Typica
Region
San José de Minas, Pichincha, Ecuador
Harvest
August - October
Altitude
1450 masl
Soil
Clay minerals
Process
Mixed Fermentation: Ripe cherries floated and then fermented whole for 90-94 hours prior to pulping and fermenting again in parchment underwater for 10-12 hours, then fully washed and dried on raised beds for 18 days.
Certifications
Staff Picks

Background Details

Have you ever paused to think about all of the amazing origin countries that the equator passes through? The most obvious, Ecuador, might not be the first to come to mind. Ecuador is one of the more elusive origins, likely the result of a high cost of production, which makes it more difficult to compete in a global market. A producer’s survival here depends on an ability to make a premium to cover the higher costs of labor. This is the strategy taken by Galo Fernando Morales Flores, who cultivates coffee, sugar cane, guanábana (soursop), corn, beans, and oranges on a 175-acre farm called Finca Cruz Loma. His focus is quality, which was recognized with a first-place finish in the 2019 Best of Quito-Pichincha coffee competition. Galo starts the process with meticulous cherry harvesting and floating to remove under ripe and damaged beans. Next, he ferments the coffee in cherry for 90 hours before depulping the coffee and fermenting with water for another 12 hours so that he can then wash the coffee to remove the mucilage. After the coffee is washed, he dries it on raised beds in the shade for three days and then in the sun for another 15 days to gently bring the moisture down to 11 percent. The finished parchment is stored in grainpro bags until it is time to mill and export. Galo is currently working on building a cupping lab where he hopes to further investigate strategies for improving quality and training other producers on how to produce specialty coffee.