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Intro by Chris Kornman
A return to form, even landing a few weeks earlier than last season, coffee from Bella Carmona in Antigua is with us again. Complex fruit flavors ranging from apricot to mandarin orange to blackberry lemonade are complemented by notes of baking spice and butterscotch, all tied together in a smooth, velvety body. It’s an easy coffee to enjoy, and hits all the hallmarks of classic Antigua flavor profiles while still managing to discover something new and exciting.
Producer and exporter Luis Pedro Zelaya Zamora is a force to be reckoned with in Antigua coffees. He’s a fourth-generation coffee professional whose reputation, in part, results from his remarkably clean and efficient beneficio that produces world-class coffees. Among the many impressive features of the mill are the sizable fermentation tanks and guardiolas. However, this lot was not mechanically dried but rather sent to the greenhouse, where Luis Pedro has stacked raised beds three tiers high and maintains a strict rotation schedule to ensure even drying. While not all of the coffees processed at Beneficio Bella Vista are grown on his farms, this particular Crown Jewel is exactly that. This greenhouse dried coffee comes from a farm called Hacienda Bella Carmona, located within the traditional Antigua growing region.
Located a mere ninety-minute drive from Guatemala’s capital city, Antigua was once itself the capital of the Spanish colonial Kingdom of Guatemala which included nearly all of Central America, stretching from Chiapas, Mexico south to Costa Rica. World renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the city contains a remarkable concentration of beautiful architecture connected by cobblestone streets. Coffee from the highlands surrounding the city has a protected designation of origin and benefits from the volcanic soil in the region; Guatemala is home to numerous dormant, extinct, and active volcanoes. Antigua rests in the shadows of Volcán de Fuego, from which smoke can be seen rising on a daily basis.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This coffee from Luis Pedro comes to us with above average density, somewhat below average moisture content, and below average water activity, with 80% of the coffee falling into screen size 16 – 18, meaning that this coffee is rated EP according to Central American standards. These good physical specs and tight screen size should lead to consistent roasts, and the low water activity should allow the green coffee quality to last a long time in good storage conditions.
Bourbon, Arabica’s second globally cultivated variety, was selected from Yemen landraces and grown on the island of what was at the time called Bourbon, now called Réunion. From there the coffee was spread to Brazil and then the rest of the Americas and then East Africa, evolving into numerous local iterations and selections. Caturra is a single-gene mutation of Bourbon whose primary characteristic is its short stature, which allows for denser planting and easier picking. It is a parent of both the Catuai and the Catimor group.
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 found myself at the preship approval cupping table in Emeryville on February 19th, just over a month before its arrival in Oakland’s port. Quick shipping under normal circumstances is worth celebrating, but in the shadow of a public health crisis and global supply chain disruption is nothing short of miraculous. So much has changed in that short span of time, even the way we cup and approve coffees, down to wholesale changes in how these coffees reach the consumer. A measure of comfort can be found in the airtight consistency of this coffee from Bella Carmona and its unfussy nature.
I applied my two favorite sample roast Ikawa profiles, roasting at home on my porch, and cupped in isolation. Both roasts were expressive, sweet, elegant, and delicious, and scored (by my undisputed tabulations) within half a point of each other. The shorter of the two roasts (in blue) offered up the classics: baking spice, butterscotch, honey, praline, and mandarin orange. The slightly longer surprised me with its zippy citrusy characteristics, while notes of blackberry and spiced apple pie lent supporting roles.
Some coffees, like last week’s Sumatra, bend at will to the whim of the roaster. Others, like this Guatemala, seem to remain true to character regardless of the applied thermodynamics. This, overall, should be a fairly easy coffee to roast under most conditions, and will likely offer consistent and solid results with many different styles of approach. Happy roasting, see what you can come up with.
You can download the profile to your Ikawa Pro app here:
Roast 1: Crown Standard SR 1.0
Roast 2: Crown Maillard +30 SR 1.0
Behmor Analysis by Evan Gilman
Unless otherwise noted, I follow a set standard of operations for all my Behmor roasts. Generally, I’ll use the 1lb setting, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
Chris generally likes to tease me, saying that I can’t stand fully washed coffees. This is probably because I tease him whenever there’s a natural on the table – but the thing is, we both have a good appreciation for the standout coffees of our less-than-favorite process. And for the record, I do like washed coffees! This is a standout washed coffee, too, with all the expected notes of heavy sugar and thick chocolate.
Seeing the green attributes of this coffee (on the dry side, dense, and with low water activity), I knew that to get the sugary attributes I was looking for I would need to draw out my Maillard and Post-Crack Development a bit.
I did start with full power (P5) and high drum speed like usual, but I tried to ramp down the power earlier than I usually do, and lowered to 75% power (P4) at 8:00 into the roast. I held this heat application for one minute, then returned to full power at 9:00. Crack occurred almost exactly one minute later at 10:00, and I turned the heat back down to 75% at the same time. I also opened the door of the roaster for 10 seconds at 10:20. After 1:10 of Post-Crack Development I stopped the roast by hitting “COOL” and leaving the door closed. Final roast time: 11:10.
My roast loss percentage was a little lower than my previous roasts on the Behmor, at 13.7%. Despite cooling with the door of the roaster closed, I didn’t get a lot of smoky notes from this coffee. Clean chocolate, vanilla pudding, and a touch of juicy lime acidity came through on my kitchen counter cupping table. I found this coffee to be thoroughly enjoyable as a drip coffee (as you can read below), but I would most definitely recommend it for a single origin espresso, especially at about a 1:1.5 ratio for a little extra viscosity to complement the heavy chocolate flavors here. This is a sweet, sweet, coffee – and my sweet tooth loves it, even if it is fully washed!
Probatino Analysis by Candice Madison
Rejoice at will, it’s Bella Carmona time, and when Luis Pedro Zelaya Zamora delivers, he delivers! This Crown Jewel is from the Don Luis’ farm itself, Hacienda Bella Carmona and dried on their meticulously managed greenhouse beds. Although the coffee arrived with a low moisture content, the well-focused screen size, as noted by Nate, of 80% of the coffee falling between 16 – 18, gave an indication that this coffee should roast evenly and easily.
Three gas changes after an initial charge gas application (2) was all it took from me to get the beans from green to great! Yes, I know, I wrote it, but it’s true! The coffee is consistent, and that also means consistently forgiving. Dry and dense meant this coffee was going to give and keep giving up sugar, as long as I was able to navigate the roast curve.
I didn’t make any changes to my usual approach; a soak followed by high gas at the turning point. I started at my usual 360 F, and the coffee gained color a little late, but within spec at 330 F. After marking the color change, I turned the gas down (2.5). The coffee cracked at around 390 F. We have historically served this coffee as espresso at The Crown, to great success. So to finish the roast, I decided to extend the PCD ratio to 22%, to see what the sugars would do with further development. I was particularly interested, as this was the first roast at The Crown, and in my career, that would be used for another brew method also – batch brew in this case. Me, omniroasting? Who knew?!
And in the cup I found the road to Bella Carmona once again. Bright red apple and a soft lemon acidity were sweetened by caramel, malt, and butter and softened by vanilla. This juicy coffee has a long, smooth aftertaste and I can’t wait to get it back up on the menu!
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
For our home-brewing analysis this week, I decided to dig deep into my cupboards for an item I haven’t used in years: the gold mesh filter. In a time when paper products are in short supply, I thought it may be a good idea to get this out for a re-exploration. Of course, what good would this be without a comparison to my trusty Chemex? I included that here as well.
This coffee from Hacienda Bella Carmona has graced our offering sheet for a number of years, and I find just as pleasing to encounter year after year. I wanted a thick and syrupy cup of this coffee, so I decided to use a 1:15 ratio for both of my brew devices. This time around I weighed my water input for the Zojirushi to make doubly sure that I was getting the right ratio. The result was a thick cup indeed, with a bit of particulate matter at the bottom due to the nature of the gold mesh filter. The flavors here were a bit muddled compared to my filter brew, but still pleasant enough with chocolate milk notes, mellow praline flavor, and a touch of lime acidity.
I was a bit disappointed in my low extraction values, and I tend to wonder if some water is retained below the tank in this automatic coffee brewer. I may account for this in the future by attempting to brew a very strong cup, grinding finer, and checking with the refractometer again.
Honestly, I much preferred the Chemex brew. Its clean green apple, molasses, and sweet raisin notes were loud and clear. I got a bit of creaminess in this coffee that I likened to vanilla tapioca pudding, something I haven’t had in years, but sticks in my memory (and to your palate, if you let it).
I’d suggest expending some of your precious paper coffee filters to get a clean brew out of this coffee. While the body really benefits from the porous filter, some of the gentler tasting notes in this coffee get lost in the particulate matter.