Intro by Chris Kornman with Mayra Orellana-Powell
What exactly makes a coffee “Honey processed?” Usually I would answer this question with the phrase “depulped, but not fermented.” Yet that is not the case here, and proves how much we still have to learn and develop our language as coffee professionals when speaking about the field of processing.
The farmer, César Sampertegui, harvested and processed this micro-lot on his 12 acre farm called Bosques de Huamantanga located near the community of Santa Maria in Jaén. Sampertegui has created what you could potentially call “mixed” or “double” fermented which has been dried in the parchment with some mucilage.
Let’s get specific: César’s coffee cherries are picked and floated in water to rinse and to remove low density fruit. They are then moved to a shaded cement tank which is covered with a plastic tarp for 24 hours. After this “fermentation in cherry,” the coffee is depulped on César’s small motorized depulper and then placed in an aluminum tank for an additional 12 hours of “fermentation.” Finally, this lightly macerated pulpy parchment is dried for approximately 20 days.
Admittedly, calling this a “honey process” doesn’t quite do justice to the complexity of the process. But then, you could argue the same about the terms “washed” or “natural” and even “fermented.” All this broad categorical jargon is reductive by nature. And so we’ve settled on a single term with the unwritten asterisk: read the fine print on the process. In fact, this is probably good advice no matter what coffee you are interested in: get to know it and the people and processes behind it.
And so, while César has designed farm management and post-harvest solutions to fit his needs, he also has a strong alliance to bring his coffee to the international market and earn fair prices. He started working with Aroma del Valle, an organization established to assist producers access the specialty coffee market. With the help of Aroma del Valle, Cesar and his wife have been able to pay for their two children to attend school.
Lest you think César’s processing method sounds like an unvetted experiment, Sampertegui has a counterargument. His coffee is currently participating in the Cup of Excellence in Peru, where it has continued on to the final round, making it one of the top 36 coffees in the country.
I’ll happily add a chorus: we’re loving this coffee. What a strange and wonderful experience! It immediately makes an impression on dry fragrance with notes of dried peach and fresh herbs. In the cup the flavors are striking: musk melon, guava, and ripe tomato meet hops and caramelized onions in a completely unique and unforgettable experience.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This honey-processed coffee from Peru comes to us with somewhat lower than average density, moisture content, and water activity. Its screen size is mostly clustered around sizes 17 and 18, with some small amounts falling outside that. Its lower water activity should help it keep its quality when stored under good conditions, and its tight screen size should lend itself to consistent roasting, though its slightly lower density might lead to scorching, especially early in the roast. Consider using a gentler approach.
Caturra is a single-gene mutation of Bourbon, first reported in Brazil in 1937. Its short stature allows for denser planting and therefore higher yields and an easier harvest. Yellow Caturra is simply a variation of Caturra with bright yellow cherries. Typica was the first commercial variety to leave the Arabian peninsula, originally from Yemen by way of Ethiopia. From there it has spread world-wide to become a well known and commonly cultivated variety. Even though it has a reputation for somewhat lower yields and susceptibility to disease, it is still grown in many countries, including Peru.
Ikawa Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
As of September 2020 we are running all Crown Jewel Analysis roasts on a brand new Ikawa Pro V3, using the most recent app and firmware version on “closed loop” setting.
I’ve been having a great time getting to know all the new Perus coming in, and after exploring last week’s coffee from Verde Kiwa, I was very excited to taste this honey-processed coffee from Santa Maria. I’m glad to say this was easy to roast and easy to drink: a flexible, delicious coffee that I hope to try again soon. I brewed these coffees on a v60, with 18g of coffee and 300g of water.
As usual I roasted this coffee first with our standard hot and fast roast profile. The resulting cup had a molasses aroma, and notes in the cup of concord grape, sour cherry, strawberry, bubblegum, and dark chocolate. It started out a little dark and mellow, and as it cooled it brightened up, with a cleaner red grape acidity. I loved this cup a lot.
For the second profile I lengthened the Maillard phase just a little bit. The results were no less satisfying: notes of rum, caramel, toffee, dried cherry, dried blueberry, cherry, and carrot juice. It had a coating body and just a touch of dark chocolate.
This was exactly like I would expect for these roast profiles. For a bright, clean cup, use a hotter, fast roast profile, and for a somewhat darker and more caramelized coffee, try extending the Maillard phase for some delicious candied and dried fruit flavors.
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 Candice Madison
It’s all about preparation, and in the case of this coffee coming to us from César Sampertegui and his careful, thoughtful preparation of this honey coffee, his knowledge and expertise shine through. Usually it is a gambit approaching how to roast coffees of unusual processing methods – although, can we really call honey-processed coffees unusual at this point?
As ever, although I may be familiar with an origin, a farm, a post-harvest process, etc., I always check the green metrics (moisture, density, screen size, water activity) in order to consider my roast plan. The aW is less of my concern and more for those storing the coffee and considering inventory pulling. However, moisture and density readings give me a greater awareness of how the coffee going into the roaster is going to behave. In this case, the larger than average screen size, uniformity across the spread made me hopeful for a solid roast from a coffee with a moisture level on the lower end of the scale and a matching density reading.
Not wrong in my assumptions, this roast proceeded in a stable and easily manipulated manner. Starting, as I do about 99% of the time with a short, low gas soaking period before the turning point, I actually decided to keep that lower gas application until about 45 seconds after equilibrium. I did this as the roast was proceeding as if I had pushed the gas up at the turning point. I attributed this to the lower density and moisture content, and decided to wait a little longer after the coffee began to rise to let it tell me what it needed! Sensing the coffee needed a little push to reach the coloring stage, I decided to turn the gas up to 3 on the dial about a minute into the roast, for 60 seconds. This gave me the intense initial arc I wanted in stage one to eke out as many fruit and floral notes that I could. Knowing that Peruvian coffees, in my experience, can be intensely sweet and chocolatey, I wanted to achieve a balance that would also lend itself to drawing out the most expressive acidity possible.
The end of the roast was uneventful, without a flurry of excess steam due to high water content, and the uniform bean size lending itself to more uniform heat transfer, all I had to do af first crack was acknowledge the phenomenon and draw the roast out to the desired post-crack development ratio.
I seemed to hit the right notes! Although I think with some tweaking this roast could be even better, I was really happy with the results in the cup. Bakers chocolate, butterscotch, and notes of grilled pineapple were complemented by a noticeable lemon and lime acidity that mellowed beautifully into a sweet cherry tomato as the coffee cooled. The light and syrupy body held up notes of pecan, persimmon and honeycomb.
I’d love this in a cappuccino. In fact, these days I just dream about espresso beverages in general, but this coffee would be lovely in milk, as much as it would be tasty served black. I might have to bribe a local barista to make my dream come true!
Quest M3s Analysis by Evan Gilman
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.
Part of the fun with uniquely processed coffees is that they can react differently in the roaster. While I didn’t have Nate’s very helpful green analysis notes when I roasted this coffee, I did notice that this coffee had a larger screen size, and seemed to be very uniform as well. I know from experience that coffees with less screen size variation tend to take on heat a bit easier, but I went ahead and started with a slightly higher charge temperature (391F) since I had trouble getting coffees through drying stage expeditiously in my last few roasts.
This 150g batch passed through drying nicely, even after I removed heat application between charge and turning point. I attribute some of this to the fact that I also dialed airflow to minimum until later in the roast; the Quest’s fan is powerful but small. As the roast progressed, I lowered heat to 7.5A at 2:50 / 280F, just when my rate of rise began to crest. I dialed in 5 for fairly strong airflow at 3:15 / 300F, and increased to maximum at 4:10 / 340F. Lowering the heat further as the roast continued, I dialed 0A at 5:30 / 380F, a little before first crack. I wasn’t able to slow down this roast quite as much as I would have liked, and my final temperature was 406F after 1:16 of development – about 17% development all told.
While I didn’t have a problem with scorching this coffee, controlling runaway heat later in roast seemed to be a small issue. This coffee behaves a little more like a natural in the roaster, in that regard. Plan to reduce heat a little earlier before first crack. In my case, this would have meant removing heat application at around 365F – something I wouldn’t do with a fully washed or wet hulled coffee, normally.
All that aside, this roast was ridiculously and flamboyantly delicious. Thick and sugar-forward, this coffee was incredibly soluble. Immediate notes were sweet ripe plum, peach cobbler, freshly roasted cacao nibs, and zippy lemon acidity. I got a very clear orange rose floral note from this coffee that I was absolutely enamored of, as well. I am not used to tasting coffees this interesting from Peru, though I have always known this giant country was capable of producing amazing coffee. This coffee is a sweet reminder not to discount the prowess of any origin!
Brew Analysis by Elise Becker
I was very excited to do brew analysis on this special selection from Bosques de Huamantanga, as I understand that calling it a “Honey Process” is a somewhat reductive description of the complicated processing it goes through, and heard that this yielded some very fun results on the cupping table. I was not at all disappointed – I brewed with delicious results!
This week I had a great conversation with my partner (who is not a coffee professional) about brewing satisfying pour-overs at home, and they expressed a strong preference for the brews made with lower temperature water resulting in a less acidic cup. As such, I’ve been thinking a lot about water temperature and how it affects extraction and flavor, so with that in mind I brewed two different cups of this Peru for a side by side comparison, with all other variables unchanged. On our brew bar at The Crown we typically use water at 205F, but I wanted to see what results I would get from a slightly cooler brew temperature as well. I have a particular love for the consistency and cleanliness of the Kalita, so I pulled that out and fired up our Fellow Stagg EKG Kettles, set to 198F and 205F respectively.
The cooler brew was very creamy, with a strong lactic acidity that three of us tasting the brew likened to yogurt. It also leaned strongly into green flavors – green apple, key lime, kiwi, and even a slightly grassy green tea-like flavor. With that said, it also had a nice light peachyness, a brown sugar sweetness, and a hint of some darker juicy fruit flavors like pomegranate. It also had a faint chocolateyness that balanced out the brew for a very approachable cup.
When I ramped up the temperature I got a similar overall profile, with the presence of the same green fruits, but I also developed a significantly wider range of fruit flavors, acidity, and perceptible sweetness. Crisp green apple turned to green apple candy, our citric fruit turned to jammy caramelized fruit such as grilled pineapple, a hint of juicy red fruit became cranberry juice and strawberry syrup. We kept the coating, lactic acidity and turned it to a rounder, smoother creaminess. A base note of baker’s chocolate kept us balanced. Overall, the hotter brew water did indeed crank up the fruit acidity.
Both brews were tasty, and good food for thought when considering the intended method of service, and when dialing for preferred flavors.