This week we’re releasing three unique and delightful microlots from the Vides family in Guatemala, each from a different farm the family owns and operates. The Vides family’s story in coffee began 3 generations ago in 1958, when Jorge Vides Molina, a prominent doctor, founded Finca la Bolsa as a passion project. His grandchildren now manage the network of farms in Huehuetenango and the accompanying export business.
While Don Jorge passed away in 1995, his daughter María Elena and her son Renardo Ovalle took over management. In 2002 they submitted coffee from their farm to the Cup of Excellence, its first year in Guatemala, and took home the prize for second place. With the potential to produce super-specialty microlots suddenly exposed, the farms underwent an overhaul in terms of production style, cupping day lots and individual varieties to separate quality and cultivating direct relationships with roasters and coffee buyers.
Finca La Bolsa is the family’s original farm, first planted by Don Jorge. A little lower in elevation than its companion farms, this hasn’t stifled its ability to produce exceptional coffee. The 108 hectare farm also is in possession of a Rainforest Alliance certification and is a member of the Women in Coffee Association, as the farm is overseen personally by Doña María Elena. Two years ago, they added Pacamara and Gesha to the more traditional varieties growing on La Bolsa.
Sustainability and traceability are among the family’s stated priorities, and the work shows in the attention to detail they’ve taken in harvesting, processing, and exporting. This lot from La Bolsa is quite complex in flavor profile, a balancing act of citric, malic, and tartaric fruit flavors, loads of sweet baking spices, and a fudgy complexion that could be described as “comforting.” It ranks easily with our favorite Guatemalan coffees for the season.
Much like its companion lot from Las Bromelias, this lot is relatively large in screen size, moderately high in density, and displays a slightly higher water activity than average, particularly in comparison to its total moisture content.
The lot is comprised of a mix of heirloom Bourbon, short-stature mutation Caturra, and Pacamara, El Salvador’s giant-seed-size variety.
I modified my most trustworthy profile a touch by lengthening the overall roast time by 15 seconds. This 15 seconds was on the tail end of the roast and increased the post crack development time compared to my 5:15 roast with the same temperature and fan speed profile. With so much moisture in this gorgeous coffee it really took to this new profile. Of the three wonderful Guatemalan coffees that I roasted this week, this one was my favorite.
As with CJ1208, my post crack development ratio was huge at 22.1% and I was initially worried that this coffee might taste a little too roasty. However, this tiny efficient and roaster can make some spectacular coffee with very short roast profiles, so my total post crack development time was 1:12. I really had nothing to worry about. On the cupping table there was a tart green apple acidity, gorgeous florals, and tropical fruit sweetness.
Since I was enamored with the abundance of fruit acidity of this coffee, I knew I wanted to push with some heat, but with a hot drum from roasting all day I had to go in with a moderately high charge. If I pushed too soon my roast would be over too quickly, so I compromised by applying 50% heat at 1:31 which kept my rate of change from dropping too quickly. I then applied 3 gas, which is usually the maximum heat adjustment I will make on a small 400 gram batch in the Probatino. This carried the roast through and I hit my desired targets. Just 30 seconds after first crack, I turned down the heat just a bit to stretch out my post crack development time to 1:19. In the cup, this coffee was glorious again. So much juicy brightness. I am beginning to think this coffee can’t fail.
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.
Golden raisin and crisp green grape came through on our initial cupping of this Guatemalan offering, along with plenty of citrus notes. Since this coffee was the one with the highest moisture content and water activity this week I sought to bring out the sugary side, following my sweet tooth into the saccharine abyss. I wanted to slow down this coffee significantly as it moved into first crack and beyond, so I opted to engage P3 just 15 seconds after first crack. I allowed this coffee to roll through first crack, and developed it for 1:35 in total.
My roast loss percentage was higher with this coffee, but again, that is closely related to the moisture content of the coffee. While some herbal notes came out in this roast, there wasn’t a strong roasty flavor.
On the cupping table, this coffee veritably screamed ‘APRICOT.’ Personally, my notes centered around the juicy, heavy mouthfeel, and a definite concord grape sweetness. Jen noted some black tea and vanilla notes, and Sandra found some kaffir lime leaf. Despite our widely varying notes, we were united in our enjoyment of this roast. There is plenty to enjoy with this coffee.
The three Guatemalan coffees we’re releasing this week are all phenomenal. As I mentioned in my analysis of Finca Las Cuevitas, these coffees are so complex that a barista could spend days exploring the many flavor profiles these coffees have to offer. For this batch of Maria Elena’s coffee, I chose to push a bit deeper by brewing it both as a pour over and as espresso.
For pour over I used a Kalita wave, just as I did for the other two coffees from the Vides family. Kalitas do a great job of letting the coffees shine; it’s easy to brew a good cup of coffee on a Kalita, especially if the coffee is already exceptional. This brew was full of fruit sweetness like peach, fig jam, green apple, cherry, and cantaloupe. It also had some elegant complexities in the form of lavender and chardonnay. Our cuppers had no shortage of descriptors for this coffee.
On espresso, Maria Elena’s coffee was so sweet and syrupy, with a prominent floral note as well as orange, raisin, and vanilla sweetness. It was one of the better espressos I’ve had in some time, and was a cinch to dial in. Determined to pull out all the delicious complexities of this coffee, I pulled long shots that were almost at a 1:2.5 ratio – a true lungo. It didn’t matter; this coffee withstood the challenge and still tasted absolutely fantastic.