Intro by Mayra Orellana-Powell & Chris Kornman
Earlier this season we crowned another of Finca San Carlos’ microlots, the Jade Centennial, and now we’re pleased to offer this dense, chocolaty decaf from the same farm for your enjoyment.
In 2020 we visited San Carlos and it’s clear that Alfred, Annette, and their 40 full time employees have done the job. Processing coffee at San Carlos has no compromises. Coffee cherry is carefully sorted, depulped with the vintage vertical depulpers, slowly fermented for 48 hours in cold spring water, then double washed with a 48-hour soak.
There is versatility with drying strategies. Micro-lots are slowly dried on patios and raised beds, while mechanical dryers are used for drying larger lots. Although there is an abundance of spring water, Alfred has configured the mill to operate with 5,000 liters per day, which is recycled several times and then returned downstream, clean, pH balanced, and oxygenated thanks to a state-of-the-art water purification system and bio-digester.
All of these layers of efficiency are essential because weather patterns have become more and more unpredictable. Alfred also runs his own dry mill using a series of 3 vintage catadores (wind channels) to classify his coffee. He explained that cherry selection and classification at the wet mill is so good that he does not need any more equipment in his dry mill to sort the coffee.
Alfred’s wife Annette is also deeply involved in the business, handling human resource and labor law compliance for employees, as well as all the export logistics from Tapachula, including refrigerated banana containers, expediting their shipping schedule.
Alfred and Annette have done much to save their coffee business against all odds but it is no less important to recognize that two-thirds of their 370 acre estate is dedicated to crop diversification (including guanabana, cardamom, macadamia, and banana trees) and preserving natural habitat for many native species. For further reading about Finca San Carlos, check out our three-part (One, Two, Three) producer profile series, a blog about refrigerated banana containers, another about climate change, and an opinion piece Alfred wrote about bees and coffee.
As with all of our Decaffeinated Crown Jewels, this coffee’s caffeine is removed by chemical-free water process, this one undertaken at Swiss Water in Canada. Royal Select is a longstanding brand we proudly purvey, choosing green coffee from the source before sending it for decaffeination..
If you care to read a little more about Royal’s stance on the use of chemicals like Methylene Chloride, look no further than this blog entry highlighting recent industry news with a number of useful links, and pick up a copy of the March/April 2020 issue of Roast Magazine, wherein the Crown’s Director of Roasting Candice Madison dissects what it takes to take the caffeine out of coffee.
Green Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
This decaffeinated coffee from Mexico comes to us with very low density, low moisture content, and average water activity. It also falls into a wide range of screen sizes, with most of the coffee falling into screen sizes 15 through 20, though about 50% of the coffee falls into screen size 18 and 19. Its wide screen size could cause uneven roasts, especially in faster roasting scenarios, so consider slowing down the roast during color change, and its low density may lead to scorching under high heat as well. Take a look at Evan and Candice’s notes for further tips on how to roast this coffee.
The varieties shown here are all of the Bourbon and Typica group, two varieties of coffee brought from Ethiopia to Yemen in the late 1600s, and then spread throughout the world where they formed the foundation of arabica coffee cultivation. Both varieties grow tall trees with excellent cup quality, although they are characterized by a lower production yield and susceptibility to major diseases. Typica was brought to Indonesia before spreading across Central and South America, while Bourbon was brought to the island of La Reunion and spread to both Kenya and Central America. Caturra is a natural mutation of Bourbon found in Brazil, especially known for its small size, which allows high production yields. Catuai, a cross between Caturra and the high yielding Mundo Novo, also shows high yield, but exhibits some susceptibility to coffee leaf rust.
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.
Sticking with routine on this decaf, I put this lovely little decaf from southern Mexico through my 3 preferred profiles with the help of The Crown’s lab assistant barista team. The coffee reached first crack as expected on the Standard and Low Airflow profiles, but lagged significantly on the Maillard +30 roast.
As a result, the Maillard +30 roast (red) offered a little bit of grassiness and some straw-like flavors, indicating a bit of underdevelopment. All that being said, it had a wonderfully clean aftertaste and a simple, chocolaty profile.
The shortest roast, the standard sample roast profile (blue) offered some unique flavors including a lot of fresh herbs, some malic acidity, a peanut butter and sesame note, and again a very clean finish. I’m not sure I’d actively seek a coffee that tastes this way, but I was surprised at how much I ended up enjoying it despite its unusual profile.
Yet, as was the case with the other recent decaf we released from Colombia, the lower airflow and slower approach (yellow) paired with a cooler charge temperature reaped rewards on the cupping table. Seventy seconds of development after first crack yielded a well rounded coffee with complex fruit notes of apple, green grape, pear, raisin, and plum, with a caramel sweetness and a hint of chamomile. Juicy and nutty, this roast seemed to show off some of the best of what the coffee had to offer.
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 Low AF
Roast Analysis by Candice Madison
There’s nothing like an afternoon mocha on a chilly day to lift the spirits. However, like many coffee professionals, I like to leave the caffeine behind after lunch. A dilemma that is solved by every advancement in decaffeination, and this water-processed decaffeinated coffee from Juarez Alfred Klein and Annette Schippenkoetter is a delightful example of that.
I wanted to mimic a production style roast, and so chose to roast this on our Probatino. With a batch size of 400g, I wanted to treat this coffee gently, so dropped it in the drum at 364F at 2 on the dial. My usual wont is to turn the heat up as soon as the coffee turns, but in this case, as the coffee has been double processed (coffee processing followed by decaffeination processing), I chose to wait about 10 – 15 seconds before applying the maximum heat 3.5 on the dial. The coffee drank in the heat and maintained a steadily declining rate of change/rise until coloring at 299F.
Approximately 1 minute after the color change, I came off the gas slightly, to 3. And then? Nothing until first crack at 392F. I was surprised; even though this coffee is dense, with little recorded moisture, I was sure it would fly in the drum after coloring and especially after first crack. The opposite was true! The coffee needs a steady heat application. I didn’t have to do much at all during the roast, but, because I hadn’t prepared for the end of the roast, I was caught by surprise.
The coffee began to stall during first crack. Noting this, I did my least favorite ‘roaster save’ and turned the gas back up. I don’t prefer this manoeuvre, as it can lead to roasty notes if you don’t handle the gas and airflow correctly. As I did this for the last 14 seconds of the roast, it did not have ill effects on the coffee.
How do I know this? I tasted it! Just the right chocolate to accompany my afternoon mocha! On the cupping table the smooth, silky bodied coffee was like quaffing high-quality chocolate. Bakers chocolate on a smooth, creamy body, flavored with bing cherries, green apple and matched with a simple syrup sweetness, all offset by a deliciously soft Meyer lemon acidity. Subtle, chocolatey and delicious, this coffee would be a comforting, sweet espresso base or a lighter alternative to an afternoon mocha. Either way, you won’t be cheated by the lack of caffeine, you’ll be blessed by how much more coffee you can squeeze into your day!
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 but 225g of coffee, manual mode (P5), full power, and high drum speed until crack. Read my original post and stats here.
Roasting a decaffeinated coffee is always an adventure! The low moisture content, low density, and smaller differences in color change can really throw a curveball here and there, but I have found roasting decaf on the Behmor to be intuitive and fun, in general. This Mexico decaf was no exception.
Starting with my usual parameters of full heat application and high drum speed, I allowed this coffee to take on heat until a little before first crack. Out of curiosity, I checked the temperature (which is only a rough estimate) by hitting ‘B’ during the roast. At around 280F on the Behmor’s thermometer, I engaged P4 for 75% power, as I usually experience coffees cracking at about 285F (which is not the actual temperature, clearly).
Crack occurred at 10:00 flat, just 40 seconds after I engaged lower power. This allowed for a steady but tempered approach to first crack. I opened the door for 30 seconds at 10:20 to abate heat and smoke, and allowed the coffee to develop for 1:20 total, just a bit longer than Chris’ suggested time on the Ikawa, this being a slightly larger batch.
This coffee had next to no smoke or chaff during roasting, but definitely had quite a few chipped beans and smaller beans that got stuck in the perforations of the barrel. Make sure to dislodge these before your next roast! Other than that, a very clean coffee to roast, both in terms of flavor and in terms of roaster maintenance.
A classic, smooth, and sweet Mexican coffee like this will please nearly anyone. Even purported haters of the decaf! My tasting of this coffee made it apparent that it would be great for nearly any application: espresso, full immersion, or drip coffee. This is a very versatile coffee in part because its flavors are so mellow, but also because of the clean aftertaste and easy roasting. A coffee lovers’ decaf if I do say so myself!
Brew Analysis by Evan Gilman
I thought this would be a smooth and simple coffee after I had such a smooth and simple time roasting it. While it did maintain its smoothness, I have to say that there was more complexity here than I expected!
I know from experience that decaf coffees take a bit more legwork to extract, so I started off my standard Chemex brew with a finer grind of 20 on the Baratza Virtuoso. Using 150g pulse pours up to my final weight of 640g, this coffee drained through at 4:45. Upon first taste, I was pleased at the baked apple sweetness, some carob or chocolate flavor, and a touch of rye bread dryness at the finish. But it seemed a little muddled, maybe a bit thin. My TDS readings back that up. This was only a 16% extraction, and I knew I could get more from this coffee.
A technique that worked with our previous decaffeinated Crown Jewel, CJO1350, a decaf Colombia Organic, was to really agitate as much as possible and use a partial immersion method like the AeroPress. This worked here as well, and I was able to pull out some very sweet cherry, cleaner red apple notes, and that same carob-like chocolaty flavor. My extraction percentage also ramped up to 19% – much more ideal.
I would certainly recommend this coffee for full immersion or espresso. You’re going to get some very nice cherry and chocolate notes with those methods. If you really add a lot of agitation, I could see a filter drip being quite delicious as well. Put in that legwork, and you’ll be sweetly rewarded. But my personal favorite for this coffee was certainly during cupping or as an AeroPress. Who knows.. Maybe a chuggable cold brew concoction would be interesting!