Intro by Chris Kornman
Royal is very fortunate to have a strong network of supply partners. One of the rising stars in recent years has been Rosalba Cifuentes Tovía, who owns and operates Mayan Harvest out of Bella Vista in Chiapas, Mexico. (You can read our 2018 interview with her here, or read Royal Coffee’s Sales Associate & Certifications Specialist Rosi Quiñones’ blog article about her February 2020 trip to Bella Vista, or view this excellent, moving 15-minute biography by Revista (Roast Magazine’s Spanish language partner).
This is the third year we’ve released her coffee as a Crown Jewel, and the second consecutive season featuring a group of women producers. Rosalba has dramatically expanded her operation, including a vast increase in the number of women producers, up to 168 this season from 42 last year.
Anecdotally, Rosalba was noticing that the women-run farms who supplied her with coffee were often of higher physical grade. “I noticed there were many women producers,” she says, “and their coffee had a better selection: cleaner, with more dedication, so I thought, it’s worth separating out this coffee”
Qualitatively, this selection is verifiably impressive at the cupping table. It starts with a caramelized and nutty aroma: think almond butter, toasted pecan, honey-roasted peanuts. The sweetness is striking on first sip. Honeycomb and Panela jump out, and leave the orange zest and cacao notes to linger in the finish. It’s especially enjoyable as it cools, and much like last year, this selection will make a very nice single origin espresso in addition to a drip offering.
Rosalba told us that she was motivated to start the project because “unfortunately, in the area… machismo predominates, so the producers are isolated… Taking this as a starting point, we want to try to improve the image of the producers by creating this group in order to promote their work.” Plans for the future include improving the price paid directly to the producers, many of whom are supporting their family primarily through coffee production. Most of the women are growing coffee on plot sizes of 4 hectares or less.
Green Analysis by Elise Becker
This delightful coffee from Mexico comes with great green stats. We have here average density, slightly below average moisture content, and a little below average water activity. The green is sorted fairly well into 16-18 screen size, and should be relatively easy to work with. We suggest a longer, more gentle roast – check out Chris, Evan, and Candice’s notes on heat application!
We have a number of varieties here, including Bourbon, Catimor, Caturra, Maragogipe, and Mundo Novo, grown on small lots from 168 women producers. Catimor is high yielding and rust resistant, Caturra, and Bourbon are highly susceptible to rust and pests, but carry very good cup quality. Mundo Novo is a tall and very productive plant, while Maragogipe (one of the parents of Pacamara) is tall and relatively low yielding. Overall, this makes for a very interesting combination of different plants.
Ikawa Analysis by Chris Kornman
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.
We’ve been anticipating this coffee’s return ever since it ran out last year. Rosalba increased the size of her network and improved her sorting, and this is in a lot of ways a very easy-going coffee that’s not hard at all to work with.
I tapped my go-to sample profiles and cupped the next day, with a noticeable preference for the slightly longer, gentler roast. With an upcoming webinar on the topic of remote cupping, I returned to the Ikawa and produced enough roasted coffee to send out to my colleagues and co-presenters, Caitlin McCarthy-García and Sandra Elisa Loofbourow, who also cupped the 2nd roast (red) at their homes before we jumped on a video call to calibrate. Gently aromatic, the coffee lulls the cupper early on into a false sense of security. It’s chuggable even at hot temperatures, and easy to miss its subtle complexity.
As the roast cooled, we noticed the fruit notes and especially the sweetness begin to emerge. The orangy acidity like sweet marmalade really comes out nicely at cooler temperatures, and pairs with honeycomb and caramel notes and a milk-chocolatey base layer. The coffee is effortlessly clean, and leaves the cupper with a lingering white grape aftertaste, slightly tannic, but one that begs for another sip.
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
Quest M3S Analysis by Candice Madison
Some people have dogs who bark or jump up, some have kids who need them when they’re busy, I have a VERY inquisitive home roaster in the form of a husband. Now that we’re roasting our Crown Jewels for analysis at home, I don’t know who is happier, him or me! I was told that the best teachers are life-long learners, and this week I had the pleasure of putting both sides into action simultaneously. I’m re-learning the Quest, as you have no doubt been reading, but this week I was also teaching my husband to roast.
And what a coffee to start with! This is the third time around the Sun with most folks at Royal and this beautiful offering from Rosalba, for me it is only the second, and already, the attention to detail that Rosalba and the farmers she works with has paid off immensely. The sorting of this coffee has always been good, but this year it is near impeccable. Sorting out all primary and most secondary defects is key to even roasting (in a washed coffee; we all know the other processes can have their own peccadillos in the roaster). Knowing the provenance well, spending time talking with Rosalba at The Crown and talking to our traders who spend time with her and the farmers of the Bella Vista Women’s Group, is an incredible privilege and does nothing but enhance the value of this coffee even more for me.
To the roaster! I did a few roasts with my ‘student’, which helped me to nail the warm up and between batch protocols on this roaster. After warming up on medium heat and fan speed, I dropped the coffee in at 390 degrees F, with 3 amps and no fan. Lessons learned from failed batches? This coffee will drink up ALL the heat it can after the turn and well past the point of coloring. Knowing this, at the turning point, I turned the heat up past my usual maximum of 9 amps, all the way up to 11 amps – the maximum our machine will go. I also turned the fan to 9 (maximum). I wanted the coffee to get the most heat when I knew it would do the most good – exposing all the fruit and floral notes through the chemical reactions taking place before the coloring stage.
At 250 degrees F, I stepped down off the fan a little to 6 on the dial. This allowed the coffee to coast thorough Maillard and for me to keep stepping down off of the heat, 8 amps at 315 degrees F and then 7 amps at 344 degrees F. The initial heat and incremental step down seemed to be what the coffee wanted. My previous roasts had made fewer, and exponentially more aggressive changes. It may be possible to do this with a larger, production quality machine because of the thermoload, but I had a lot of trouble trying that approach with this machine.
The coffee roasted for longer than most others, around 11 minutes, which meant first crack, at 391 degrees F at 9:48, felt late, but was totally in spec. I dropped the amperage just before first crack, to 3 amps and turned the fan back up to 9. This gave me a good amount of post-crack development, but, because I dropped the coffee at 400, I wasn’t expecting any baked notes.
As I mentioned, this coffee will stall on you if you’re not careful with your heat application. It is dense and drier, meaning sugar for days – and low and behold, that’s exactly what we all found in the cup!
The aroma was full of baking spices, malted chocolate and caramel, once I began cupping I could easily find a tart/sweet cranberry or plum skin note dancing with the soft, thick juiciness of a mandarin orange. That complex acidity held up a sweetness that wouldn’t stop! It started out as shocking and bright as confectioner’s sugar and mellowed into a dark brown sugar and raisin note.
As the coffee cooled, it was like sipping mulled orange juice, warm, bright, round and smooth. I cannot wait to roast this up as a jammy sweet espresso. I might also load the Loring up and fire off a batch brew profile so that everyone gets to sip this in the late afternoon sun, just like me!
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.
One of my other home roasting methods is to use a popcorn popper, but I no longer am in possession of one – I left it in Bella Vista with Rosalba! So while you’re reading about the Behmor today, you can also look on her Instagram to see the Poppery in action now and again @mayanharvestcoffee.
For the Behmor, I decided to play around a bit with extending Maillard. To that effect, I attempted to anticipate crack by about 30 seconds, and engaged P4 (75% power) at 10:10, then engaged P5 again at 10:50 when it became clear the coffee needed a little extra push to get into first crack. And it did – crack occurred at 11:10, just 20 seconds later. As first crack happened, I reduced heat back to P4 for the remainder, and opened the door for 20 seconds at 11:40 to abate some heat and smoke. The roast finished at 12:20.
My resulting batch had a roast loss percentage of 13.7%, and looked a bit darker than I was expecting. The notes on cupping were very nice, however. Abundant chocolate, pervasive marzipan sugariness, and clear malic acid notes like plum and melon were all present. I really looked forward to brewing this one, and you can follow along below!
This coffee will surely respond well to different roasting tactics, whether you’re looking to express acidity or sugars. I’d suggest playing with ratios of drying time vs Maillard to find the best balance for your palate!
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
For such an easy roasting coffee, I’ll be honest: I had some trouble dialing this one in! I’ve really enjoyed this coffee in the past, so I wanted to make sure that it was just as delicious as I remembered.
I used the Chemex, which is my home default, to brew this coffee on my first pass. At a ratio of 1:16 and my generally sufficient settings of grind 22 on the Baratza Virtuoso and a 3-stage pour of about 200g each, the coffee’s flavors didn’t really pop as much as I would have liked. I got melon and some cocoa powder notes here, but I couldn’t really grasp too much more.
For my next pass, I decided to grind a bit finer and to increase to a ratio of 1:17. This was a seriously tasty brew that really highlighted the sugary notes in this coffee. Baked apple, chocolate mousse, and the elusive vanilla cake donut flavor came through. I mean it: I really like a coffee that tastes like donuts. But I know there’s another dimension of juiciness to this coffee – something more than donut.
To that effect, I tried brewing on the AeroPress for something closer to a full-immersion method. I used 14.2g of coffee ground at 16 on the Baratza Virtuoso, and 240g water at a scant 190F. After 45 seconds preinfusion and a 1:30 press, the resulting cup was lush with plum, melon, grape, and chocolate. And it still had the marzipan sweetness I recall when I think about drinking this coffee in years past. Delectable!
I would highly recommend a full immersion method for this coffee, and perhaps even espresso if you’ve got a machine at home. This is a delicious option for those of you like me that have the sweet tooth. Rosalba and her crew have brought us an amazing coffee yet again!