This is an organic, traditional washed coffee from Timor-Leste, produced and processed by a group of 14 farming families organized around an organization called Café Brisa Serena Timor-Leste.
The flavor profile is easygoing, with sweet notes of banana, lime, and honey and a mild herbal character.
Our roasters found the coffee versatile and easy to roast to different profiles, with a tendency to accelerate a little in later roast stages.
When brewed, the coffee is light and “chuggable” as drip and makes for a dense, delicious espresso, and is featured on The Crown’s tasting room menu.
Taste Analysis by Sandra Loofbourow
Tart apple, brown sugar sweetness, tropical fruit – this coffee has it all. It’s surprisingly light body and pervasive sweetness make it distinctly “chuggable”, but spending one extra moment with it before diving in for the next gulp reveals all kind of fun notes like banana, lime, and honey. It’s less herbaceous than most coffees from this origin and although it’s a dream as a drip we’re looking forward to espresso-ing it in the Tasting Room at the Crown.
Source by Evan Gilman
This is the third year working with Café Brisa Serena Timor-Leste, and a great time to reflect on the work they have done with their partner producers and Peace Winds Japan to enhance coffee quality and get access to the international market. It must be said that their coffees have a level of transparency and traceability not commonly found. We can learn about this coffee’s travels from the sub-village level, all the way to export from Timor-Leste; and this is true for all lots of coffee from CBS. They are truly doing some remarkable work. You can read more about them on our blog in last year’s or this year’s interview, and we’ll be having a webinar with them on March 5th, 2021 where you can ask questions!
As for the background of this relationship, the story begins with my trip to the Philippines to do some work with Kalsada Coffee. During this time, I met Hirofumi Yamamoto, who was attending Benguet State University and doing some development work on the side as well. Hiro was doing work with various communities to introduce agricultural programs related to integrated pest management and coffee shrub rejuvenation, and it is from here that he traveled further afield to Timor-Leste, Myanmar, and many other places.
Hiro introduced me CBS Timor-Leste shortly after my return to the US, when I began working at Royal Coffee. After many exchanges of samples, emails, and (just lately!) video calls, we found their arrivals improving year over year, and have built a great working relationship with them.
The Lacau #1 lot comes from 14 farmers in Ducurai Village, Letefoho, in Ermera Municipality, Timor-Leste. All of them have been working for decades as farmers and have coffee shrubs that have likewise been growing for many years. For the last 16 years, CBS Timor-Leste and Peace Winds Japan have provided extra technical assistance and training so that coffee farmers in Ermera can get the most out of their crops and produce the best quality coffee possible. They also helped to build a water tank here, where water is scarce, and droughts can last months.
Accordingly, use of water during depulping and washing is kept to a minimum in Lacau. After depulping, coffee is fermented ‘dry’ (only in its mucilage) for 24-36 hours in a sealed bag in the relatively cool, high altitude temperatures. Afterwards, a brief fresh water wash is employed to rinse off mucilage.
Each year, older coffee trees are culled, and less productive branches are cut after flowering and pollination. In the past, after Portuguese colonialization, trees were allowed to grow to heights up to 10 meters, which meant productivity was severely affected until rejuvenation measures were undertaken. Trees are much more productive now after years of training and uncompromising rejuvenation efforts on the part of the farmers in this region.
Coffee isn’t the only crop here, though it is one of Timor-Leste’s most important cash crops. The farmers of Lacau also grow peanuts, sweet potatoes, cassava, corn, carrots, jackfruit, and taro to bring to market. All these plots are interspersed with Casuarina equisetifolia trees, which help fix nitrogen in the soil.
The work being done here is phenomenal, and we think you’re going to see it come through in the cup as well. Take a closer look at how this coffee performs on the cupping table and in the roaster below!
Green Analysis by Chris Kornman
Much like the Crown Jewel from nearby Eratoi Group, this Timorese coffee from the Lacau Farmers is large in size with a wide 16-19 distribution spread. It has really nice looking, moderate moisture figures, and appears to be a little above average in density. You can expect this green coffee to enjoy a long shelf life under good storage conditions.
The green here is comprised of two cultivars, both historically important globally and with local Pacific Island origins. Typica is the name of the first arabica variety cultivated on nearby Java in Indonesia. It was transported from India’s Malabar, where it had been planted by Baba Budan and/or the Dutch, both of whom selected / stole it from a Yemeni garden. Colonizers, especially the French and Dutch, then spread its cuttings widely and, despite its low yield, became the world’s first truly global coffee plant. It remains coveted by roasters for its high sensory quality potential, and is usually characterized by oblong leaves, cherries, and seeds.
The island’s namesake Timor Hybrid is something of a double-edged sword. This spontaneous arabica-robusta cross saved the Pacific from coffee-extinction in the wake of a 19th century rust epidemic. It also provided the genetic baseline for most of the modern cultivars developed for disease resistance, higher yields, larger screen sizes, and general hardiness. Of course, it also has a reputation for qualitative similarities to its “robust” parent species, so it is often shunned by specialty roasters. I’m pleased to say that, at least in this case, the genetic predisposition has been overcome by conscientious cultivation, immaculate prep, and attention to detail at every step from the farm to your cup. For that, we surely have the farmers of Lacau and the logistics and quality support of Café Brisa Serena to thank.
Diedrich Analysis by Candice Madison
The coffees that we have been tasting and selecting for Crown Jewels this season from Timor-Leste have been diverse in taste but have all been a very easy roast. Nothing too significant needed to be adjusted from my base profile for the Diedrich, and that’s when I decided, to mess around a little. There are many serious things in this world, and coffee roasting, as a business is one of them. However, I am a coffee roaster for fun! My job is to be creative, be experimental, try new things, and be as diverse as I can be – and then bring you the fruits of my labor. And for that reason, I have to apologize, to you, to myself, to the coffee! In my quest to present profiles and tips to make things as easy as possible for someone utilizing this resource, I haven’t stretched myself for some time, and so the fruits of my labor feel staid.
Never mind! This week, I decided to blow some air through the chasms of my roasting mind, by doing exactly that – upping the airflow! This coffee came across my table with an almost ideal moisture content reading and a low water activity. The density was above average and the large, fairly tight and screen size all told me that I should feel free to have fun, the coffee could take a little messing around – I also got a hold of a little extra coffee so I could feel free to make mistakes, a necessary part of growing.
Deciding that I wanted a little extra articulation of the flavor profile components, an obvious acidity, as much sweetness as I could grab and a developed representation of all of attributes, I decided to go hot and fast. I will be going a little deeper into the chemistry of why this would be on the blog and will drop the link here when the article is live. I decided to roast twice and kept the charge temperature the same – a balmy 400F, and far hotter than I have let myself charge this drum for a while. I had to change my between batch protocol, extending the cooling period by 3 extra minutes, to ensure that there would be little to no scorching (none was observed), and that the variables that most impact the thermal load in the drum could reset to my usual readings.
I wanted the higher gas setting to enable the chemical reactions that develop early and help produce the fruity and floral notes to be pushed as much as possible before the coloring stage. By keeping things hot, it would allow me to stress those reactions into proliferating faster and in more abundance, but also preserve the acidity, before pulling back, stepping off the gas for a longer Maillard reaction stage. With the first roast (blue), I started off with about 50% gas, 0% Airflow. The second roast (red), saw the gas at 90%, and the airflow at 50%. I wanted to be cautious in the first roast, and so kept the proceeding changes in the same vein; a little more airflow at turning point, as I turned the gas up. A gas change at the coloring stage and half-way to first crack, kept me in my comfort zone, but I had already established that that was not where I wanted to be!
Caution thrown to the wind, the second roast saw me blow the doors open at the turning point, I was already at 90% gas, 50% air (remember!), I turned the airflow right up to 100%. I stepped down off of the gas a couple of times, again, before marking the coloring stage, and then the airflow down to 50%. I wanted to make sure that the speed of reactions I had induced in stage one, was now slower for stage 2 – allowing for all those proteins and sugars to be transformed into the aromas and sweetness I knew were waiting for me in the cupping bowl.
Wanting to let the coffee sparkle, rather than just please, I reduced my development time, very slightly, by only 15-20 seconds than usual, but ended up with a statistically significant reduction of 1 – 2% development per roast. But with such, seemingly slight adjustments to the roast, would I perceive any difference in the cup? Yes, yes, yes!
Dare I say it, but I would drink both!! The first roast (blue) was the first cupped. It was full of comforting sweetness, and approachable fruits. It was light, balanced and very elegant for an afternoon cup. Lots of mandarin juiciness, honeydew melon and rosehips, given a little heft with a roasted walnut note and a bright, hard candy sweetness. The mandarin was accompanied by a lime sweetness, that gave the acidity a lovely complexity. The shorter development ratio led to a lighter body, but one that suited a more delicate cup. The second roast (red) was the stand out for me – deeply sweet, notes of tamarind, caramel, malt, and fruit compote. These deeper notes were complemented by the complex mandarin and lime acidity, with notes of red grape also. The deep fudge note was supported by a velvety smooth body. Now, I’m not going to lie, I’d drink both, but I’d probably have to pick roast 2 (red), if I were pressed. A morning cappuccino to sip at 6 am whilst I walk the dog? Yes please!
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.
Much like the Eratoi lot from Café Brisa Serena, the Lacau is a mover and a shaker. Truth be told, these two coffees were pretty much neck-and-neck as far as preference on the cupping table and in Crown Jewel selection. Some folks preferred one slightly over the other, but both passed through our selection process with some very nice notes.
I felt that this coffee could take a bit more of a push than its counterpart (thermodynamically speaking) because of its slightly higher moisture content and water activity, its wider spread of screen sizes, and its higher density; pretty much everything was pointing to a higher resistance to heat application. I still wanted to use a charge temperature on the lower end, however, and started my roast off at 383F. The biggest difference was that I decided to limit airflow at the beginning of the roast by keeping the fan off after charge and through the initial descent. I only introduced airflow to 3 later, at 240F / 2:00 when things really began cooking.
This tactic turned out to be beneficial to my roast, but at the cost of my nerves. Initially, my rate of rise was ridiculously high, which made me touch nervous. Not to fear, that’s what the controls are for! At 275F / 2:40, I lowered heat application to 7.5A, and lowered it further to 5A at 320F / 3:45. It was at this point that I realized that while this coffee can take a push, it also retains momentum very well due to its high density. At 360F / 5:00 I increased fan speed to full, and I cut heat application entirely at 385F / 6:30, and this coffee kept right on its path through first crack.
Post crack, it seems most of the energy was expended; my final temperature was about 394F, which I know to be a comfortable light-to-medium roast on the Quest M3s. Furthermore, after looking at the ratio of time spent in drying and Maillard, I was very pleased to find that I spent more time in Maillard on this roast. I was also able to achieve 16.7% post-crack development without exceeding 400F.
In the cup, I got clear lime and apple tartness, with a huge backbone of fudgy chocolate. I dare say this reminds me favorably of many lots we get from the Catracha Project in Honduras. There’s so much tootsie-roll sweetness in this cup, I keep coming back for more. The cup even seems to thicken and get more complex upon cooling, and I admit I do enjoy coffee as it starts to get cold.
Ikawa Pro V3 Analysis by Nate Lumpkin
As of September 2020 we are running all Crown Jewel Analysis roasts on an Ikawa Pro V3, using the most recent app and firmware version on “closed loop” setting.
This subtle but delicious coffee from Timor was a new experience for me, and one I had a little bit of trouble describing. I put it through my standard roasts however and gave it my best shot! Afterwards, Chris and I cupped this coffee separately and compared notes. It behaved predictably in the roaster, though one of the roasts cracked a little bit late. Interestingly, that roast ended up tasting very nice.
Our first hot and fast standard roast produced a complex flavor profile with some components that seemed to work against each other. I tasted dried mango, orange juice, plum, caramel, and raisin, with a sweet herbality like chartreuse, and a bran-like finish, reminiscent of a chocolate oatmeal cookie. It had a silky smooth body, and overall experience that reminded me of walking in the woods, for some reason. Maybe it had a subtle note of pine. I really liked all of these flavors separately, but together the oatmeal-like note seemed somewhat out of balance.
Our slightly longer Maillard roast produced a more balanced cup with no loss in complexity. I tasted lemon, plum, sugar cookie, honey, dark chocolate, and sage. It was very sweet and slightly earthy, and its herbality was somewhat less intense than the previous roast. This was Crown Director of Education Chris Kornman’s preferred roast, though I preferred the next roast myself.
Our longer, cooler low airflow profile produced notes of blueberry icecream, cherry cola, a simple agave sweetness, dark chocolate, nutmeg, orange zest, and again that note of pine. This was a tart cup with a thicker body, and a lime finish. I liked this cup a lot, particularly its candy-like sweetness and citric acidity.
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
I brewed this coffee on the Fellow Stagg and the Hario v60 in hopes that these two differently shaped brew devices would give an interesting contrast. We use both devices frequently at the Crown, and we have just redesigned our brew bar to allow us to serve pour-overs, and are planning to use the Fellow Stagg in service! We may even be serving this delicious and subtle coffee, which performed very well on both drippers.
I brewed this coffee first on the v60, which is one of my favorite drippers. It’s so versatile and easy to use, and always produces a nice cup. It brewed through at 3:07, and produced an extraction of 18.91%, a little low for my tastes usually, but pretty much on target. In the cup we tasted mango, lemon, artificial banana, green grape, brown sugar, and milk chocolate chip. It had a tart acidity and a hard candy sweetness in the finish, and a hint of a light medicinal astringency. I liked this cup a lot! It was tart, crisp, and clean, and just a little bit syrupy.
The Fellow Stagg brewed through much faster, at 2:29, and as usual for this brew device produced a higher extraction of 19.95%. We tasted lime, tamarind, red grape, cantaloupe, toffee, caramel, and milk chocolate. Overall this brew had a less intense acidity and fruitiness, but a slightly more complex and balanced flavor profile. I was surprised that a higher extraction would produce a less intense cup, but I imagine that maybe a broader range of flavors extracted. Of the two brews I believe this one was my favorite.
In the end though, both brews were really nice! For more tartness, try a brew style like the Hario v60, and for a little more complexity and balance, try something that will push extraction up a bit, like the Fellow Stagg. This coffee is easy to work with and made a nice cup either way.