Good supply chains deliver tasty coffee. This is certainly the case with a collection of micro-lots that just arrived courtesy of the Federación Comercializadora de Café Especial de Guatemala (FECCEG), an umbrella organization that helps producers with small farms gain access to the international market.
Juanita Bravo Mateo produced one of these lovely micro-lots on her 9-acre farm called El Cipresal near the village of la Pinada in the municipality of San Pedro Nécta.
This is the first time Juanita has seen her coffee featured as a micro-lot. She has worked up to this goal for the last six years through her membership in La Asociación Civil Maya Alternativa (COMAL), an association of 231 producers. COMAL has focused attention on training producers on the best organic practices to manage their farms and diversification projects like beekeeping.
Juanita has put her training in action, making her own organic fertilizer and harvesting honey from two hives. Juanita has her own micro-mill to process harvested cherries. First, she floats the cherry in water to remove less dense and damaged beans. Then she depulps, ferments, washes and dries the coffee to 11 percent moisture.
At this stage, FECCEG steps in to support Juanita with transportation, warehousing and cupping analysis, and later provides the preparation for export. FECCEG has worked hard to ensure coffee traceability so that Juanita receives more income for improved quality. Increased earnings from coffee sales help Juanita strengthen her family’s livelihood.
We’re thrilled with this coffee’s sweet baking spice, juicy plum and ripe kiwi flavors. It’s vibrant, elegant, super drinkable. It’s unbelievable that this is the only first time Doña Juanita’s coffee has been tasted on its own.
Solid numbers here, including a fairly standard EP style sort, mostly 15-18 screens, with perfect moisture and only very slightly higher than average water activity figures. The density is the stand-out spec, higher than average for the region and rivaling East African coffees for the amount grams it can pack per liter.
Juanita Bravo is growing a few traditional varieties, including legacy Bourbon, dwarf Caturra, and the less commonly seen Pache. Pache and Caturra are kinda like cousins, both are short stature mutations from Bourbon. Caturra was first observed in Brazil in 1937, while Pache is a uniquely Guatemalan contribution to the catalog, first noticed in 1949.
It’s always a pleasure to be able to step in and work on roast analysis for incoming Crown Jewels; it’s one of the first opportunities for these coffees to shine outside the sample roaster/cupping table world! We’ve tasted lots of delicious coffees from Guatemala this season, so I was particularly excited about roasting and brewing this organic offering from Juanita Bravo, especially after reading about all the hard work she’s putting in at the production level.
In the roaster, this coffee was everything you want: no big surprises, responsive, and cooperative! The coffee took on heat nicely after a brief “soak” and then cruised through the Maillard phase quite smoothly. I <i>almost</i> started to worry a little bit, while I was waiting for first crack; it came a hair on the later side of things but still within reason. After first crack, the rate of rise continued to drop at a manageable rate, with no major crash to speak of. I was almost surprised at how easily this coffee roasted. It probably would have roasted itself if I had asked it to!
The next day, on the cupping table, this coffee continued to shine! We picked up on lots of melon, peach, kiwi, and lime, rounded out by a wonderful nougat and brown sugar sweetness, and a long-lasting finish. If you wanted to accentuate more of rich sweetness in the coffee and back off the acidity, I would recommend lowering the gas a good bit before first crack to allow you to develop more sugars towards the end of the roast. Or try shorting the development a hair to really make those fruit notes pop! I think no matter what you do, this coffee will delight and impress!
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.
This coffee from Juanita Bravo Mateo got some delicious initial notes that I wanted to replicate through my roast on the Quest. To achieve the berry, brown sugar, and pear notes that we saw on the first cupping of this coffee, I knew I’d need to spend a significant amount of time in Maillard. This coffee had a fairly close screen size distribution, so I didn’t think that I would need too much push in terms of heat application. I was wrong!
So, while I began applying more intense airflow, I noticed my rate of rise dropping dramatically. Perhaps a little too dramatically. I decided to back off the airflow a bit at 5:35. I did indeed spend the majority of the roast in Maillard, but the duration of the roast was a bit longer than I would have liked, clocking in at 10 minutes.
On the cupping table, we definitely saw some of the notes from our initial cupping: brown sugar, and some mellow malic acid as well. The surprise was the touch of concord grape that lent this coffee a ‘naturalistic’ flavor (if I can be a bit loose with my language). Since I took this coffee a bit dark (13.5% roast loss percentage, with the original moisture reading being 10.9%), we also tasted some dark chocolate and herb-like notes. I got a dry floral like chrysanthemum tea.
For all of you out there on the Quest, I would humbly suggest applying a bit more heat than you think you need, and to stay the course until later in the roast to reserve some of those gentle malic acid notes that can come forward. You won’t be lacking for sugars in your cup in any case, but there are some very delicious and subtle qualities of this coffee that can emerge when roasted just so.
The more time I spend with this coffee from Juanita Bravo, the more I love it! I sample roasted it, cupped it, roasted it on the Probatino, cupped it again, and now I’m brewing it! I feel privileged to get to spend so much time with such an amazing coffee. For this week’s brew analysis, I returned to a fun brew exercise that I’ve used on other occasions: brewing with a conical brewer vs a flat-bottomed brewer. This week in particular, we received the new f70 brewer from Saint Anthony Industries. It’s basically a flat version of their conical c70, a favorite of mine, so I figured it would be fun to brew on them side by side.
For the sake of accentuating differences caused by the shape of the brewer, I kept all other brew variables the same – grind setting, water temperature, brew ratio, etc. The first brew (in the conical brewer) finished draining in 3:20, with the flat-bottom brew wrapping up slightly faster at 3:05. TDS and extraction numbers were comparable for both, so I was really hoping for some different tasting notes, otherwise this would’ve been some truly boring brew analysis.
Bright and crisp are what I would consider the key words for the conical brew. We found lots of acidity in the form of apple, pear, melon, plum, and citrus. The brew was plenty sweet as well, with notes of date, toffee, and honey, and its finish was so crisp and clean that I kept immediately going back for more! The brew from the flat-bottom brewer definitely had a heavier, richer body, with considerable more sweetness coming through. Graham cracker, bourbon, and lots and lots of chocolate stole the show here, and the finish simply went on for days. This coffee was so, so, so good! Bravo, Juanita Bravo!