Intro by Mayra Orellana-Powell with Chris Kornman
Entering into another Catracha season is always highly anticipated here at The Crown and at Royal’s offices. The efforts undertaken by farmers in Mayra Orellana-Powell’s community in Honduras result in exquisite coffees and stories with a lot of heart. Mayra and Lowell’s decision to return to live in Santa Elena full time has paid dividends both in measurable improvements to the wellbeing of their neighbors through community enrichment programs, and demonstrable improvements to quality in the coffee.
For the Crown Jewel program, we again selected coffee from producer Fidelina Pérez, whose harvest last year was one of our very favorite single-producer lots from the project. This year, she’s done it again. This is a super sweet coffee with a milky, chocolatey texture and flavors such as apple pie, root beer and cola, graham cracker, and golden raisin. It’s easy to enjoy and will reward careful roasters and brewers with hints of florality and delicate acidity with notes of crisp pear and honeydew melon.
Fidelina Pérez has a two-acre farm called El Rincon in the community of Casas Quemadas where she lives with her husband and four children. In prior years, Fidelina has sold her family’s coffee in cherry to the local middleman. For the last several years she has been working with Catracha Coffee. During this time, she has improved her farm management practices using lime to control the pH of the soil, fertilizing with organic compost, and spraying organic fungicides to control levels of leaf rust. These actions have improved the health of her farm and the quality of her coffee production. Fidelina has also learned to process her coffee along with her husband who also works with Catracha Coffee. They use the same micro-mill to depulp, ferment and dry her coffee before delivering it to Catracha Coffee. Fidelina plans to use some of the extra income from the sale of her coffee to renovate parts of her farm and help her oldest daughter continue her University education.
Mayra Orellana-Powell founded Catracha Coffee Company to connect her coffee growing community with roasters. Ten years later, Catracha Coffee has gained momentum with more than 80 producers and 20 roasters working together on sustainable relationships and a profit-sharing model, which has consistently paid at least $2.00 per pound directly to producers. This extra income helps increase each producer’s capacity to reinvest in their farm, and overtime, increase their standard of living.
The sale of Catracha Coffee also creates income for a non-profit called Catracha Community (a 501(1)(c)(3) nonprofit), which invests in income diversification opportunities without taking resources from a farmer’s bottom line. Catracha Community host weekly workshops for women and youth to learn craft making skills. Like the coffee, the focus is on quality. With the help of talented volunteers, the group has been able to make many beautiful things and sell them through our network of coffee friends. We even have a name for the group, Catracha Colectivo.
Catracha Community has also established an art residence and studio in Santa Elena to host artists from Honduras and around the world. These artists have been running art classes two days a week for over a year. Every week more than 30 children come and learn art. Art is starting to pop up everywhere around Santa Elena. There are more than 30 murals along the streets of Santa Elena, in people’s homes, and at many schools.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This washed coffee from Honduras comes to us with high density, and average moisture content and water activity. Its screen-size is nicely sorted into mostly size 17 and above, with just over 40% of the coffee falling into size 18. You should expect consistent roasting and long storage under good conditions with this coffee. Its high density may cause it to resist heat, especially early in the roast, so consider applying more energy or a higher charge.
Catuai is a compact, highly productive cross between Yellow Caturra and Mondo Novo, developed by Brazil’s Instituo Agronomico of Sau Paulo State in the 1940s, though not released to the public domain until the 1970s. Though it is highly susceptible to pests and coffee rust, its size and shape make it easy to apply treatments and care for, making it an attractive choice. Catuai first reached Honduras in 1979, and today accounts for nearly half of Arabica coffee cultivated there. It is also common in Brazil, Costa Rica, and Guatemala.
Ikawa Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
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 had the chance to try out the new Ikawa V3 for these analyses. It’s a tiny bit bigger than the V2, I think, and instead of a switch to eject the coffee has a button, but otherwise it runs almost exactly the same. The big change in my use of it was the new thermocouple recording the inlet temperature in addition to the bean temperature, so our roast logs will include both. Basically the inlet temperature is recording the temperature of the heat source, so it’s much higher than the temperature of the bean mass itself.
Usually I would run the coffees through three different roasts, but found a strange error when I tried to roast the beans with our low airflow profile, where the fan was not able to sustain the beans in a spin for a long period during the Maillard phase. I tasted this roast but, as expected, it was inconsistent and slightly baked, like a cupcake with buttercream icing, and mixed acidity. We believe this to be a malfunction of the V3’s machine learning capabilities, so for the time being I won’t include the data for this roast in the analysis.
Our fast and hot standard roast for this coffee turned out really delicious, with a strong strawberry flavor and pleasant nuttiness like hazelnut, along with additional notes of vanilla, cocoa, lemongrass, brown sugar, and a lingering berry finish.
For the second roast I used a slightly longer Maillard phase, and ended up with a fairly different but no less enjoyable cup. It has a caramel apple and lemon aroma, with notes in the cup of green apple, grapefruit, peach, caramel, brown sugar, toasted wheat, and a light florality like hibiscus. I suspect the longer Maillard phase likely brought out a lot of these interesting sugar browning notes. Both seem like great options: if you’re interested in a slightly heavier cup of coffee, I recommend trying a roast with a more elongated Maillard phase; while for a lighter, more summery cup, consider trying a faster roast.
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
Probatino Analysis by Alex Taylor
We featured Fidelina Perez’s coffee on the pourover bar in The Crown’s tasting room last year, so I have fond memories of this coffee and am optimistic that this year’s harvest will deliver the same quality!
I had a limited amount of coffee to work with for this roast, only 250g, but decided to give it a go anyway; even if the roast isn’t perfect, it’ll offer a glimpse into how the coffee behaves in the drum and what sort of flavors we might expect in the cup. To compensate for the small batch size, I lowered the charge temperature to 350F and gave the coffee a slightly longer “soak” before turning up the gas. The coffee quickly drank in the heat and turned around pretty quickly (right around 30 seconds), and I was worried that it would fly off the handle right at the start; lucky for me, the delay before turning up the gas helped this coffee fall back in line, and the rest of the roast proceeded nicely. Compared to roasting on the Diedrich, the Probatino is very easy to control, and the coffee responded appropriately as I started stepping off the gas after color change. In turn, this allowed me to cruise through first crack comfortably and keep coasting for a solid 1:15 post crack development and end the roast at a surprisingly low 397F! I had a hunch that this coffee would be loaded with rich, sweet, chocolatey notes, so I would have preferred to maybe take it a little darker, maybe around 402. But it’s good coffee, and a solid roast, so I felt confident it would cup well the next day.
On the cupping table, this coffee certainly did not disappoint! I think my lighter roast allowed some of the coffee’s pleasant, light acidity to shine through. I tasted some nice crisp pear and honeydew up front, as well a rich, ripe plum. These all paired nicely with the robust sweetness that I remembered from last year; oodles of molasses and milk chocolate combined with a silky mouthfeel and lingering finish made this a truly decadent coffee, which would pair nicely with the treat of your choice from your local bakery, I’m sure!
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.
Tasting Sra Pérez’s coffee is like coming home to a warm house on a winter day. We’ve worked with Catracha Coffee for 10 years now, and the fairly recent addition of her coffee fits the general quality of the Santa Elena area, but with just a touch of extra sweetness. We’re all glad it’s back as a Crown Jewel!
This was a very easy coffee to roast in the Behmor. The trick was in attempting to predict when first crack would occur, anticipating the first true pops and ramping down power to 75% (P4 on the Behmor’s panel). In this way, I got ample time in sugar development without allowing the temperature to run away after crack.
So for this roast, I engaged P4 at 10:00, just as I began hearing some telltale puffs from the coffee. Crack happened a little more than a minute later at 11:10, and had quite the slow start. There were definitely loud pops coming in earlier, but not with enough frequency for me to call it the start of crack. At 11:15 I opened the door of the roaster, and I hit ‘COOL’ at 12:00 even to stop the roast. Since the start of first crack was tough to pin down, I decided to err on the side of caution with a short development time. The gambit worked out!
On my kitchen cupping table, the peachy black tea aromatics of this coffee were covered with a layer of milk chocolate sweetness. There’s a curious note to the Catracha coffees that draws me in every time; tootsie roll sweetness with a fleeting touch of concord grape. I keep sipping these in a vain attempt to catch up to the dancing notes. There’s a little carob, and pleasantly earthy burdock coming in at the end, mixed with that darjeeling tea note.
This coffee is simultaneously comforting and complex. And for all that complexity, still a very easy cup to drink!
Brew Analysis by Elise Becker
I have the pleasure of familiarity with the delicious coffee coming from El Rincon, as we featured last year’s crop from Fidelina Pérez on the brew bar at The Crown. It was certainly a favorite for its sweet, chuggable profile, and as such I was excited to brew the new crop!
While we brewed this coffee as a pour-over at The Crown last season, I wanted to tap into its versatility and made sure to do an immersion brew with the Aeropress as well as a Kalita and V60.
The Kalita and V60 performed beautifully, with remarkably similar TDS and extraction percentages. The Kalita brew was exceptionally clean and floral, with detectable jasmine, peach, orange zest, and apple, a honey and almond paste sweetness, and a dark chocolate backbone. The V60 brew was sweeter though slightly less floral, with lots of caramel, dark chocolate, hazelnut, and juicy orange and plum.
The Aeropress didn’t disappoint either; I used two filters rather than one to clean up the cup when pressing, and was rewarded with mouthwatering apple butter, toasted almond, praline, green apple, lime zest, dark chocolate, and a creamy peanut butter smoothness.
All in all, a very, very chuggable coffee that I was happy brewing and even happier tasting!