This is a traditional washed coffee from smallholders in Ocotepeque, Honduras. It is decaffeinated by Mountain Water Process and certified Organic.
The flavor profile is exceedingly sweet, syrupy, and velvety, with notes of apricot, vanilla, and butterscotch.
Our roasters found the coffee easy to work with, albeit difficult to gauge color change. First crack starts early and rolls slowly.
When brewed our baristas found it versatile and cooperative as a pour-over, and it will be entering service as an espresso at The Crown.
Taste Analysis by Sandra Loofbourow
Delightfully syrupy and sweet, this coffee is chuggable no matter how it’s brewed. On pourover, it screams vanilla and stone fruit; at longer ratios you’ll find more delicate notes of cantaloupe melon and marmalade. In the Tasting Room we’re looking forward to serving this as an espresso where we expect those notes of butterscotch and raisin to really shine through. With steamed milk it will probably taste exacts like a milk chocolate candy bar, or like a vanilla fudge sundae. Yum!
Source Analysis by Chris Kornman and Mayra Orellana-Powell
Keeping a supply of exceptional decaf coffee on an exclusive menu list like the Crown Jewel program is a challenge. The long timeline between sample approval, decaffeination, arrival, and analysis are daunting under basically any circumstances. This coffee landed just in time, and I secured a little extra for espresso service at The Crown.
Ocotepeque is Honduras’ westernmost department, sharing a border with both El Salvador and Guatemala. Farmers responsible for growing this coffee have organized with Café Ventura, located in the community of El Playón within the municipality of San Marcos. Café Ventura is owned and operated by Lurvin Ventura and his family, who have been cultivating coffee since 1970 and started to export coffee in 2012. In addition to helping small producers to improve quality and export coffee, Café Ventura donated land for the construction of a kindergarten in El Playón and purchased water filters for the local elementary schools. Producers working with Café Ventura also diversify their income growing corn, beans, and vegetables.
Royal sourced this coffee prior to decaffeination directly form Café Ventura through our Royal Select program selected based on cup profile, physical preparation, and potential to express excellently once decaffeinated. It is then shipped, in this case to Descamex in Veracruz to undergo “Mountain Water Processing.” During the water process, the green coffee is pre-soaked in water to expand the beans for caffeine extraction. The hydrated green coffee is then introduced to a unique solution of concentrated coffee solubles that draw out the caffeine while minimizing the loss of flavor compounds. Once the caffeine has been removed the green coffee is re-dried and re-bagged for transport, and the extract solution is filtered of its caffeine and recycled to be used again.
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
This water processed decaf Honduras arrived with some interesting physical specs. The coffee was sufficiently dried after decaffeination, but retains a higher-than-average water activity. This is fairly common for decafs and should help move the coffee through early Maillard and browning reactions.
Additionally, it’s relatively low in density and somewhat wide in screen size, which could offer up some challenges in the roaster. Namely, be prepared to treat the coffee gently and keep an eye on your development times to assure even coloring.
Diedrich IR-5 Analysis by Chris Kornman
Dusting off another hat this week, I’m pleased to play the role of production roaster when offered the opportunity. I’ve been filling in here and there during a couple of busy weeks at The Crown and starting to get my sea legs on the 5kg Diedrich.
Knowing a little about decaf coffees tending to perform better with gentle heat application, and understanding that this coffee is destined for our espresso bar, I wanted to follow a profile with an even, slow coloration and somewhat long post crack development under relatively low heat conditions. If I could achieve this, and prevent myself from baking the coffee, I figured we’d have a pretty good baseline for a tasty decaf espresso option.
I chose to charge the coffee a little on the hot side but refrain from applying heat until the curve bottomed out, starting with about 70% gas just before the 2 minute mark. As my heat delta peaked about 45 seconds later, I switched from closed airflow to 50% through the drum, to aid any early moisture migration out of the system.
At about 4:30 I was still hovering close to peak rate of rise, and decided I’d need to back off a little to anticipate Maillard starting. I noted color change at 5 minutes (a little difficult with this coffee, but identifiably yellowish) and 80 seconds later returned to my low “idle” gas setting, about 25% power.
A few early pops started to trickle in at a fairly low temperature (370F) and I opened the airflow fully to whisk away any smoke. First crack is slow and rolling with this coffee, and somewhat earlier than I’d expected. I knew at this point I’d never hit my profile end temp in the low 400s, and elected to switch to instincts.
I’d hoped for about 90 seconds of post-crack development, but with the early first crack and quickly descending heat delta, I decided to watch the exterior color. The 10-minute mark, my intended drop time, came and went without enough browning. In fear of a late upward tick in rate of rise, I killed the burners briefly for about 20 seconds before returning to 25% power. This allowed me to coast into a light, long development. The end of roast perfectly coincided with a drop to zero in rate of rise.
I worried the extra minute of development might have baked the coffee, but was surprised at how dynamic the flavor profile was on the cupping table. Elise Becker joined me to check the flavor and confidently exclaimed that this roast will “slap as espresso on bar.”
I tasted a clear, clean citric acidity, vanilla sweetness, maple syrup-like viscosity, and a hint of that lovely tamarind flavor I associate with great Honduran coffees. The fragrance has a hint of “decaf” process, but in the cup the finish is crisp and elegant, without so much as a trace of it.
Overall I’d characterize this as a very well-behaved decaf, and strongly encourage a gentle roast to bring out the best in it.
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 200g batch size, and begin roasting when I’ve reached my desired charge temperature. Read my initial post here and my updated post here.
Two coffees arrived this week, and while this one certainly had less caffeine, both were very easy to work with. Even though I wanted to do something completely different with my roast of this coffee, the coffee was so accommodating that the changes worked very well in my favor.
My charge temp for this coffee was pretty much as high as I go on the Quest M3s. This was in an effort to allow the coffee to ‘soak’ up heat from the roaster, rather than hitting it with high direct heat application in the beginning of the roast. To that effect, I started with 5A heat application and full fan speed, cutting fan to 0 and raising heat application to 10A at 1:00, just before turning point.
This worked out well, and I got a solid rate of rise right from the start. At 240F / 2:38 I introduced fan again, to 3 on the dial. As the roast progressed evenly toward Maillard, I dropped heat application to 7.5A at 265F / 3:20, and increased fan speed to full at 300F / 4:20. This drew me slowly and evenly through Maillard, but perhaps a little too slowly. Here’s where I tried something a little different.
At 330F / 7:35 I reduced fan speed back to 3 on the dial for roughly 2 minutes as the coffee rolled into first crack. It was only just before first crack that I ramped fan speed back up, and just after first crack that I reduced heat application to 385F / 8:20 – creating the sort of “U-shaped” fan speed change you can see in the graph above.
All along the way, this coffee reacted just as I thought it would, even as a decaffeinated coffee this was incredibly nice to work with. It was even nicer in the cup after a nice dinner! Super gentle florals like geranium were just hinted at, with big chocolate, clean caramel apple, and fruit leather came through clearly.
Ikawa Pro V3
Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
I’m excited that this new Decaf Honduras is going to be featured on espresso at the Crown, though I’m sad to be saying goodbye to our old Decaf Sumatra, which I’ve grown to love over the last few months. We roasted this Honduras on our Ikawa Pro V3 to see how it would behave through several different profiles, and its results were sweet, juicy, and malty, with a range of fruit, honey, and even some floral notes, which I expect will be a lovely experience on the espresso bar as well.
Our standard hot and fast profile produced a bright and sweet cup with notes of caramel, raisin, apple, orange, malt, and a hint of rose. This cup’s acidity was just a little bit too high in comparison to its subdued fruit notes, but had a clear flavor profile with a lot of candy-like sweetness. Our extended Maillard profile produced a surprisingly light-bodied cup, with notes of marmalade, orange candy, plum, malt, and almond, with a slightly smoky finish.
My overall preference was for our longer, cooler, low air-flow profile. We tasted pear, apple, cantaloupe, chocolate cake, toffee, honey, and sweet dessert pastry. This was delicate and sweet, with a clean, lush presence. I highly recommend roasting this coffee a little cooler in the Ikawa, as its flavor was much broader and well-balanced than the hotter roasts.
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
Roast 3: Crown 7m SR LowAF 2
Brew Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
We brewed this Decaf Honduras a couple different ways on pour-over to see how it behaved, and I’m very happy to report it was versatile and cooperative, producing a sweet, velvety coffee with loads of stone fruit notes and pie-like qualities.
First, I reached for the Saint Anthony C70, a favorite at the Crown pour-over bar which usually produces a really clean, juicy cup. We ground this one a little coarser than usual, an 8.5# on our EK43, but used our standard recipe of 18g coffee and 300g water. It took a little long to brew, at 4:24, but the cup was delicious! We tasted apricot, peach, and apple, with a butterscotch, nougat, and marshmallow sweetness, and a velvety mouthfeel. It had a heavy sweet quality like an apple pie.
To compare I used the Fellow Stagg, which generally produces a higher extraction and some more intense flavors. It brewed a little faster, at 3:19, but did show a higher extraction: the TDS of the previous brew was 1.25, and this one was 1.32. In the cup we tasted marmalade, apricot, cantaloupe, golden raisin, brown sugar, and vanilla. Both of these brews were great, and I can’t wait to taste this coffee on espresso.