Intro by Mayra Orellana-Powell and Lowell Powell with Chris Kornman
There is a first time for everything. In this case, we’ve got two firsts packed into a single Crown Jewel: this is Hector Ventura’s first year to be featured as a single-farmer microlot within the Catracha project, and the first Honey process from Catracha that Royal Coffee has carried.
This is a clean and velvety coffee, full of caramely, syrupy sweetness. Cantaloupe, bananas foster, and nectarine notes serve as accents and round off the edges on this lush, full cup. There’s a hint of savory with the sweetness, a welcome and satisfying combination; perfect for lazy late-summer mornings.
Hector Ventura has a 2.5-acre farm called El Naranjo in the community of Tapuiman. He lives in the nearby community of Sisiguara with his wife and 3 children. In prior years, Hector has sold his family’s coffee in cherry to the local middleman. For the last three years he has been working with Catracha Coffee. During this time, he has improved his farm management practices using lime to control the pH of his soil, fertilizing with organic compost, and spraying organic fungicides to control levels of leaf rust. These actions have improved the health of his farm and the quality of his coffee production. Hector has also learned to process his coffee using his own micro-mill so that he can depulp, ferment and dry his coffee before delivering it to Catracha Coffee.
This year Hector added new drying tables at his micro-mill so that he could dry more coffee. This is the first year that Hector has been able to process enough coffee for a single-producer micro-lot. Hector plans to use the extra income from the sale of his coffee to pay for more farm improvements.
Last year was the first year a producer from Catracha exported a honey process — Rigoberto Rodriguez — but before Rigo, came several years of trials with buckets, all under the Catracha Quality Project, which is funded through the non-profit Catracha Community.
Honey Process producers this year picked 1000 pounds of cherry, hand sorted the harvest on raised beds in the afternoon, and left overnight on the raised beds. The next morning they floated the cherry in a 200 liter plastic drum and then depulped. The depulped coffee went back into the same drum and was sealed and fermented for 20 hours in a protected cool area out of the sun. The process was repeated over several days to make about 4 exportable bags per farmer.
The day after fermenting, the parchment was sent straight to drying on a patio without washing. With 20 hours of fermenting and a full day of sun-drying, the mucilage that remains is very light. Then the coffee was placed on raised beds for the remaining days of drying. The lighter honey is not as sticky and there is less risk of odd flavors from uneven drying.
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 bottomline. Catracha Community hosts 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. They 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 peoples homes, and at many schools. During the COVID 19 pandemic, group activities have been suspended but women continue to make crafts and also masks to earn extra income. Artists have been visiting homes to paint small works of art on windows and doors. They have also been painting stools and selling them for extra income. Many families are also starting family gardens and trading seed to diversify their harvest.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This honey-processed coffee from Honduras comes to us with very high density, somewhat below average moisture content, and somewhat below average water activity as well. Its screen-size is tightly clustered around sizes 17 and 18, with only small amounts outside of that, meaning it should have an easier time with consistent roasting. Like our other offering from Catracha Coffee at this time, this coffee is very high density, meaning it may resist energy, especially early in the roast, so consider using a high charge temperature or increased energy early on.
Catuai is a compact, highly productive cross between Yellow Caturra and Mondo Novo, developed by Brazil’s Instituo Agronomico of São 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 got to try out the new Ikawa V3 for these roasts, whose main improvement is the inclusion of both inlet and bean mass thermocouples, for an additional data point. Inlet temperature has been included on the roast charts–it’s basically measuring the temperature of the Ikawa’s heat source, so the temperature is going to be a lot higher than the bean mass.
Our standard hot and fast roast turned out tasting bright and clean, with a sparkling grapefruit, lemon, and raspberry acidity, and darker notes of dark chocolate and caramel. This coffee is quite dense, so I’m not surprised that a hotter, shorter roast brought out such interesting acidities.
Our slightly longer roast also tasted really nice: slightly lighter, like apple juice or lemonade, with additional notes of strawberry and toffee. While I enjoyed this roast, I probably prefer the previous one. I suspect that the longer period of Maillard development lightened up the acidity that made the previous roast so sparkling, but in my opinion did not adequately bring out the sugar browning flavors to make up for it. I would recommend this style of roast if you’re looking for a more mellow cup.
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
It’s always nice to see Catracha coffees rolling through the Crown Jewel queue; Mayra and the rest of the Catracha community do really great work, and it’s an honor to be able to present these coffees to the greater coffee community. And to boot, it’s exciting to see the first honey-process coffee coming from Catracha this year!
My batch size for this coffee was a little low; 300ish grams instead of the 400g that I’m used to when roasting on the Probatino. To compensate, I decided to wait a little longer before turning up the gas after the initial “soak”. The coffee turned around a little faster than the [admittedly arbitrary] reference curve I was using, and then quickly fell below the reference in response to the delay in heat application. With a little less overall energy in the system, the roast proceeded a little on the slower side, but not concerningly so, and the coffee acted predictably as I stepped off the gas, which is always nice. This coffee is more than happy to let you drive! I turned down the gas in anticipation of first crack and was cruising along nicely, when this coffee tried real hard to stall. The roast may have just barely flatlined for a heartbeat, but a was able to fight off the stall and keep the roast going by feathering the gas a little. I ended the roast at 6:54 and 398F, with 1:05 post crack development. So be on the lookout for a crash after first crack with this coffee, but otherwise it was a pleasure to roast!
This coffee was a nice change of pace on the cupping table! The aroma had really big blood orange and stone fruit notes that carried over into the first few sips nicely. As the coffee began to cool, the bright acidity mellowed out and turned into a sweeter fruitiness; think candied citrus, compote or fruit cup. As I kept sipping, I was met with velvety notes of vanilla and deep dark chocolate, both of which continued to intensify as the cup cooled. There was a lot of complexity in the cup, and it maintained its integrity as it cooled, which is always a good sign. I think most people would find something to love in this coffee, but especially those who are fans of the citrus/dark chocolate combination! And while I look forward to trying this coffee as a pourover for brew analysis, I think this coffee has the structure and body to excel as espresso too!
Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Alex Taylor
I had the opportunity to revisit this wonderful honey-process coffee from the Catracha Project’s Hector Ventura for some additional production-style roast analysis on our Diedrich IR-5. I had enough coffee on hand for three batches, and enough time to not feel rushed, so rather than roasting all three batches on the same day, I got to roast, then cup, then roast again, which allows me to actually follow through on the typical “if I had another roast” section in my analysis!
With three roasts in the queue, I didn’t try anything too crazy with my first roast: a low-heat soak at the beginning, crank up the heat at turnaround, and start stepping down around color change. The coffee seemed to take on lots of heat, and was a little hesitant to slow down, so I came off the gas in larger steps than I usually do (from 5 to 3 to 2, instead of say, 5 to 4 to 3 to 2.5 to 2). Having stepped off the heat a good 10 degrees before first crack would happen, I was able to coast pretty comfortably at the end of the roast. Based on my notes on my previous Probatino roast, I was ready for a big crash in my RoR, but didn’t get one this time around, perhaps because the Dierich retains heat more than the Probatino. I ended the roast at 9:22 after about 1:30 of post-crack development, at the still-surprisingly-low temperature of 399.4F. By most of my standards, this was a very ordinary, cooperative, uneventful roast on the Diedrich. And as is usually the case, almost 50% of the roast was spent in the first phase. I’ve felt for a while that I’d really like to get that number down, and I finally had an opportunity to experiment: for the next two roasts, I would aim to spend less time in phase 1 and spend that time in phases 2 (and maybe 3?) instead. But first, to the cupping table! As I cupped this coffee, I picked up on big green apple and vanilla notes right off the bat, both on the aroma and in my first few sips. I also tasted white grape, raisin, vanilla, and cocoa powder. It was a nice, soothing cup, but I know this coffee has more to offer and looked forward to roasting the next two batches.
For my next roast, I really wanted to give things a bigger push at the start, keeping in mind that I would need to slow things down pretty quickly to keep from blazing through phase 2 of the roast. So I upped my charge temperature by 25 degrees (from 365F to 390F) and I turned up the heat at 0:45 instead of 1:30. I was only somewhat successful in achieving my goal for the roast; I shaved about 20 seconds off phase 1, but added less than 10 seconds to phase 2, with a nearly identical third phase (post-crack). So without a significantly longer phase 2, all I really accomplished here was shortening the overall roast duration by 11 seconds. So on to the third roast I went, saying to myself, “No half measures.” I kept the charge temperature high (390F) but this time, I started the roast at gas level 5, the highest level we use. No half measures. I finally started to see the results I was looking for, although I have to admit they were less extreme than I anticipated, especially considering the 4 pound batch size (the smallest we use on this machine). I shaved another 13 seconds off phase 1 (so 34 seconds shorter than the first roast) and started stepping off the gas hard. At 265F I lowered the gas from 5 to 3, and then just after color change, I took it down to 2, our minimum (without cutting the burner). I have to admit, I was real nervous that the roast would utterly stall out and everything would be awful. But the roast coasted along quite nicely. Phase 2 of the roast was 45 seconds longer than that of the first roast, and the roast did slow down a little too much around first crack, but a small bump in the heat application kept things moving. So I unwittingly added about 25 seconds of post-crack development to this roast. I was very intrigued to taste the three roasts side by side.
Back to the cupping table! For good measure, I brought the first roast back out to cup alongside the second and third. I stand by my original thoughts on how that coffee tasted. The second coffee was certainly more complex than the first, and more balanced. The sharp, green apple acidity had mellowed out some, and I tasted nectarine, plum, and red grape. The sugars were more developed, but not super intense; I found notes of white sugar, burnt caramel, and honey, with a pleasant, lingering finish. This coffee was an improvement over the first, but as I expected, I felt it could still be better. The third coffee was definitely the most complex and balanced of the three. The aromas and flavors that I found were all more distinct from each other, and played quite nicely together too. I smelled Meyer lemon, clementine, and dark chocolate, and in my first slurps I also tasted maraschino cherry, kumquat, brown sugar, and maple syrup, all of which gave way to waves and waves of rich dark chocolate. Quite simply, this was a real nice cup of coffee! I look forward to tasting more honey-process coffees from Catracha in the years to come!
One additional note: while doing post-roast analysis on these coffees, my ColorTrack readings were surprisingly high (dark), particularly for the whole bean measurements (so, representative more of the outside of the bean than the inside). This is true even for the roast that I gave a 1:30 “soak” before applying high heat (this roast actually had the highest/darkest reading). I found this surprising because my end temperatures for all three roasts were quite low (398F or 399F), plus I didn’t taste anything that would have indicated the coffees got “roasty”. In fact, after tasting the coffees, I was inclined to say they could have easily been taken a few degrees further. All this goes to say that the outside of this coffee browns faster than some other coffees. So if you’re deciding when to end your roast according to the color of the coffee, you might want to let it get a smidge darker (baby steps here though) than you might otherwise be so inclined.
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.
Catracha season is one of our favorite seasons here at Royal – we usually get upwards of 20 lots, and each one is unique and delicious. The task, then, is to find which ones stick out as being the very cream of the crop! Tough job, but we’re up to the task.
Hector Ventura’s coffee made our job a little easier due to its incredible aromatics. I knew I was in for a treat just reading the cupping notes, but I didn’t realize this was a honey process coffee until after I roasting! No matter, this was a pleasurable coffee to roast.
Much like the other Catracha coffee this week from Fidelina Pérez, I anticipated first crack and engaged P4 at 9:45, when I first heard some telltale puffs. Crack came on slowly, but had a definite start 11:00, a bit later than I anticipated. I opened the door a little later than usual to compensate, at 11:25, and concluded the roast at 11:50.
Tasting this coffee was like being taken back to fond memories of coffees past. Heavy milk chocolate brought on fond memories of holiday candy wrapped in foil, and the creaminess continued into heavy vanilla and hazelnut syrup notes. The finish presented a touch of bright cherry, and this coffee kept building as it cooled, too. Chuggability council approved.
Brew Analysis by Elise Becker
I was extremely excited to brew Royal’s first honey process from Catracha! I gave this coffee the same treatment as the Catracha lot from Fidelina Pérez, putting it through its paces on Kalita, V60, and Aeropress to delicious results.
The Kalita was surprisingly tropical and juicy, with a tea-like body and a snappy pineapple acidity, meyer lemon, cherry, fig, and a nice dark chocolate finish. The V60 featured heavily on berry and cherry, with a lemon-lime tartness balanced by toasted almond and bakers chocolate.
My Aeropress brew, which I double filtered for cleanliness, had a beautifully creamy, velvety texture. It was also a surprisingly complex and delicious cup, with a lingering blackberry note, blueberry, orange sorbet, caramel, toasted almond, and the refreshing zip of a lime soda.
Definitely easy to brew, and easier to drink!