We’ve made specificity of origin a point of pride in our Crown Analyses for a long time. Rather than focusing on immediately recognizable denominations of origin such as Yirgacheffe or Tarrazu, we’ve endeavored to hone to the district or even neighborhood in most cases.
That level of specificity is possible here, as well… but it takes up far too much space to include it in the title. Here’s the details: this coffee was grown by 244 members of a producer association called Asociación de Mujeres Caficultoras del Cauca (AMUCC, or the Womens’ Association of Coffee Growers of Cauca). These women live and grow coffee in and around the cities of Balboa, Cajibio, Caldono, El Tambo, Florencia, La Sierra, La Vega, Morales, Piendamo, Popayan, and Timbio, each within the department of Cauca. One of the many amazing things about Colombian coffee is that most smallholders process coffee themselves with an unmatched degree of expertise, adding significant value to their crop, as is the case here.
Royal CEO Max Nicholas-Fulmer shot me a message when the lot hit the arrival table: “Killer Coffee. Winner.” It’s the kind of shorthand that can get lost in the flurry of flowery descriptors usually reserved for coffees of exceptional caliber, but after a few years working here… well you start to recognize the coded language.
Here’s the long version: this is a wild coffee. At lighter roasts the coffee is a zinger: grapefruit and kiwi shine through a nougat-like sweetness with support from flavors like plum, golden raisin, and light herbs. A slightly darker roast thrown into the mix yielded a sweet pineapple top note underscored by lime zest, pine, black cherry, and nutmeg. A versatile coffee to say the least.
Falling a into a little looser size category than the bulked Supremo or Excelso categories, this Colombian melange still manages a relatively large screen size, mostly 16+ with the majority in the 17-19 range, not too far outside of average specs for a European Prep Central American coffee, for example. Otherwise, the density is moderate, the moisture is on target, and the water activity well within normal bounds.
Unsurprisingly, the women growing this coffee are predominantly using Colombia’s two most commonly planted cultivars: Caturra and Castillo. Caturra is a legacy variety, a dwarf single-gene mutation of Bourbon which gained a lot of popularity in the Americas after it was first observed in Brazil in 1937. Castillo is a recent introduction in Colombia, beginning in 2005, and is now its most commonly grown cultivar. Many iterations are backcrossed fifth generation (F5) seeds, though F6s exist, and the tree exhibits strong resistance to Roya and hearty yields.
This week marks a move from Infogram graphics to a more industry-standard roast curve representation. As many, if not most roasters today use some form of data interface/collection software to track their roasts, we have decided to move to post screenshots of the actual curve recorded for each roast in Cropster.
As delicious as this coffee is, it is made more so by its compelling provenance. To have a coffee of such quality being produced by 244 producers and the fact that most, if not all, of these women are responsible for processing their coffee post-harvest to a such a degree of excellence, is, quite frankly, wonderful and rare. The additional fact that it roasts with such versatility and nuance is a boon to both my palate and the satisfaction in being able to promote it.
This coffee’s metrics indicate a fairly even spread across the larger screen sizes (16 – 19), medium density and medium moisture levels. With this information, and because this was the first roast of the day, I made the decision to start the coffee at our highest gas setting at a slightly lower charge temperature of 362F. A quick dehydration phase allowed me to extend the Maillard stage and still achieve a minute of post-crack development. As you can see I only had to make 2 gas changes to effect the results I wanted in the drum which translated beautifully to the cup. The sweet notes of raisin, maple, nougat and honey, mixed with fruit flavors of plum, kiwi, pear and grape. The cup was clean with a clear and soft acidity of kiwi and lime. In other words, just lovely!
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.
After observing the notes above from Candice and Chris, I decided to begin with a higher charge temperature and allow this coffee to take up a generous amount of heat, mostly due to the wider spread in screen size. The result was that this coffee took its time through the drying phase, and went very exothermic post-crack.
A little before the end of drying phase (3:45 / 290F), I engaged the fan to 3, and increased it shortly afterwards (4:35 / 315F) to full speed. I could tell at this point that the coffee took on heat very easily, and was continuing to develop just slightly quicker than I was aiming for. A little after first crack (7:50 / 393F), I reduced heat application to 7.5A and hoped for the best – but this coffee was already cooking! In order to get a significant amount of time in development, I allowed this coffee’s drop temperature to reach 410F, which is about as high as I ever like to go.
The roast notes were clear on the cupping table, but so were the pleasant notes from Chris and Candice: Green apple, blackberry, and light herbal notes like sage made themselves known. Not all complexity was lost at this high temperature. If you’re a fan of a more developed roast, and organic coffee, this coffee may be a good choice for you, as its flavors stand up very well to higher heat application.
Yet another amazing Organic Crown Jewel offering here from another producer group doing great work. I wanted to see if I could find a way to bring out some of the really different flavors we were tasting on the cupping table, so I decided to brew this coffee two times at two (very) different brew temperatures. We typically brew with 200 degree water here in the Tasting Room, so for the sake of novelty and trying to force discernable results, I cranked the brew water up to 210 for the first brew, and let it settle all the way down to 180 for the second. (Quick note: I used Fellow’s Stagg EKG temperature-control kettles and replaced the kettle on its base whenever I wasn’t actively pouring, to try to keep the brew water as close to 180 or 210 as possible.) Aside from the brew temperature, I kept all variables the same.
The resulting brews were a bit of a surprise! The hotter brew finished in slightly more time, but had a lower TDS and extraction yield. Taste-wise, it was pleasant, with a light, lime-y and orange-y acidity and sweetness reminiscent of baked goods. The finish was a little dry and woody, but on the whole, this cup was still tasty. The second brew (with 180 degree water) was stunning. We tasted pineapple, starfruit, vanilla, cantaloupe, grapefruit, dark chocolate, and roasted marshmallow, with a lovely, buttery and velvety body. Despite the lower brew temperature, this brew had a higher TDS and extraction than the first, and tasted notably better as well. I’m a little suspicious that the first brew may have channeled or otherwise had a very uneven extraction. I wasn’t surprised by the dry finish, but would have expected higher TDS and extraction numbers. The low temp brew was a pleasant surprise though, and I’ll probably start playing around with lower brew temperatures more often. Definitely get your hands on some of this coffee if you need a delicious new organic addition to your coffee portfolio!