Eivar Velasco Muñoz is a resident of the Rio Blanco village in El Tambo, about 20 miles due west of Cauca’s department capital city of Popayán. His tiny 2-hectare farm called “El Recuerdo” boasts 9,000 coffee trees, and he’s intercropped banana, manioc, sugarcane, tomato, and lemon, mostly just for household use. He lives on the farm with his wife Deiby and his two teenage daughters Johana and Zuly.
Eivar’s family has been farming coffee for some time, and for a while he was content simply to help them with their harvest and processing. However, about six years ago he and his wife started to plant their own trees and care for their own farmland, still assisting with his siblings’ harvest until his own coffee reached maturity. Learning from his experience, from his family, and from his neighbors (who all assist with each others harvests, kind-of an informal cooperative that integrates a labor exchange), Eivar was able to elevate his quality by selecting only ripe cherries and carefully fermenting and drying.
Even on the smallest of Colombian farms, coffee producers typically wet mill their own harvests. As Eivar has done, this usually means a small, hand-cranked pulper and frequently involves makeshift fermentation tanks. Eivar is dry fermenting and sun drying his coffees after they’re washed clean. The results this season are stupendous.
The coffee’s hallmarks include a candy-like sweetness, ripe cherry and blackberry fruit notes, and a lilt of rose-like floral character that make for a harmonious and elegant cup. Layered with a velvety, silky viscosity, its an uncommonly delicious coffee, and one we’re sure will be easy to enjoy.
Eivar’s coffee is high in density, moderate in moisture, and the water activity number looks nice and stable. The screen size distribution is a bit on the wide side, which could cause some minor variations in heat absorption in the roaster, but by-and-large this is a nice looking coffee on physical inspection.
The first coffee planted on Finca El Recuerdo was the Colombia variety, a Caturra/Catimor cross developed by the Colombia Coffee Grower’s Federation (FNC) and released in 1985. Its high yields and improved cup character made it a popular choice to plant alongside—or to replace—aging (and disease-susceptible) Caturra and Typicas. It’s a multi-line hybrid, and genetically complex. The most popular iteration is an F5, but it appears Eivar is also growing the F6 iteration—terminology that indicates how far generationally removed the seed is from the parent genetic material (“F” stands for “filial”). The higher the number, the more generations and less likely the plant is to show genetic or physical regressive traits, yet the longer it takes to develop.
Additionally, Eivar has diversified his resistant hybrid crop with Typica, Arabica’s first global cultivar, and the first coffee introduced to Colombia, likely by priests making the trek over from Venezuela in the early-to-middle 18th century. Typica’s origins are rooted in Yemen: by the end of the 17th century, the Dutch were successfully cultivating their first coffees on the western coast of India, using coffee lifted from the Arabian peninsula—either by the Sufi Baba Budan or merchant Pieter van der Broocke. From there, they sent cuttings that would sprout in Java around the turn of the 18th century, and would thereafter spread throughout the cultivating world. Typica is characterized by conical tree shape, narrow pointed leaves, seeds, and berries, and fairly low yields (even compared to its cousin Bourbon).
This is a truly lovely Colombian coffee, and from the arrival table, I knew that there was a lot of jammy fruit as well as sparkling citrus acidity in this coffee that I wanted to bring out. Using a longer roast profile because of the size of this coffee and density of this coffee, I wanted to make sure that I had enough Maillard time to develop all of the aromatics available. I used a profile that has an airflow setting that decreases from 80% to 65% at the midway point between yellowing and the end of the roast. This particular profile usually yields a more silky texture from my experience with other coffees.
First crack happened right on time at 4:45 giving us a full minute of post crack development time. In the cup was loads of blackberries and lime soda. All of the fruit was on the sweet side and candy like with a juicy body. This is a really great coffee that will adapt well to any roasting machine.
This week I was able to muscle my way into the construction zone also known as The Crown and roast on the Probatino. Fortunately I was able to squirrel away in the corner, but I only had a limited amount of time and just enough for one roast of coffee. Being a large dense coffee from Colombia, I knew that I would need enough heat to really amplify the aromatic makeup of this coffee. I used a moderate charge temperature of 366F and then turned the heat up to 3 at 1:30. At about 5 minutes into the roast I knew I needed more heat and I turned it up to 3.5 gas.
This gave me the energy I needed to finish the roast and reach first crack at my desired time target, but I also gave the coffee enough energy to race through first crack at 394F. When you roast without a data logging tool that displays the rate of change for you, it can be difficult to go back to quick math and intuition. I was able to recover by only turning the heat up for 30 seconds and then rapidly reducing heat after first crack. With a warmer machine, the 3 gas setting may have carried this coffee through to the end, but on a colder drum, the quick pop of heat would have been better spent closer to the beginning of the roast.
On the cupping table this coffee was filled with jammy fruits like blackberry, pear, and pomegranate. It has a silky chocolate base and even some lovely florals to boot. The roast may have finished at a higher temperature than I had intended, but an allstar coffee like this will always shine.
This week’s Crown Analysis featured two superb Colombian coffees. CJ 1253 from the Totoró region of Cauca really shone under long brew ratios with clean juiciness. When brewing Eivar Velasco Muñoz’s coffee, I began with the same approach; a stretched out brew to get the most deliciousness in the cup. This coffee’s character was a little more crisp and clean compared to the Totoró’s juiciness, but I hope that it’s delicate flavor notes might blossom under a longer extraction.
Using a 1:17 ratio, I ground the coffee at 9 on the EK 43 – a little coarser than usual to account for the longer brew recipe. This created a really silky, elegant cup full of light clean bing cherry, strawberry preserves, pomegranate, with crisp white grape and pear and a maple syrup base. So yummy!