The Jade Centennial microlot returns to our menu for the second consecutive season, and we’re pretty thrilled to have it back. Alfred Klein’s attention to detail at the farm level, and his clever selection of reefered banana container shipping logistics has provided us with an exceptional early-landing Central American coffee.
There’s quite a lot to tell about Alfred and his story and challenges on the farm, and we have other tasty lots from San Carlos this season, but I want to focus the attention of this analysis especially on this delightful Crown Jewel. It’s an incredible Chiapas, really delightful sweetness with a sparkling acidity uncommon for its origin. Truly a special coffee, likely the most uniquely flavorful Mexican selection you’ll taste this season.
Don Alfred chose the name for this coffee, and it certainly has a ring to it. Jade Centennial refers to the deeper than usual hue of the coffee and the hundred-year history of the farm. There’s more to the story of course – a parcel of the farm called Centenario is home to many of the trees, and on the parcel a hand-carved Mayan jade figurine was unearthed.
The trees were planted on the farm by a Guatemalan worker who claimed to have brought the seedlings from Quetzaltenango. Sr. Klein isn’t sure of the exact variety. Per his description, the bean size is close to Maragogype, the bean shape like old Bourbons, the tree structure like Catuaí with large, deep green leaves and light green new growth. The tree is tolerant, though not resistant to roya and ojo de gallo.
To my eye, the polished seeds appear long, more like Typica, Java, or Gesha.
One of the especially unique aspects of Finca San Carlos is its year-round access to spring water, allowing the coffees to double wash with an extended post-fermentation soak commonly seen in Kenya and Ethiopia. Don Alfred’s water management is second to none; he’s installed purifying tanks and has excellent wastewater management practices. Always in search of innovation, recently Alfred began renovating his drying patio and installing raised beds. He’s also received good sensory feedback from an overall 25% increase in fermentation time.
Alfred Klein’s Jade Centennial variety, perhaps a local mutation or hybrid, presents this season with average moisture and water activity figures and a fairly large screen size (mostly 17/18 – compare to a Kenya AA or Colombia Supremo, for reference – though the grading here is not as precise). The density is also quite high for the coffee, and you might expect this batch to resist heat a little in the roaster as a result of its larger size and higher than average density.
I am so excited to be roasting the Mexico Centennial Jade from Alfred Klein’s farm again, especially so early in the season. After looking at the green coffee analysis that Chris has done, I can see that we have a large and dense coffee. This means that we will need to supply this coffee with enough heat and time to avoid any underdeveloped flavors. There also could be a lot of sugar that we can convert into a vibrant acidity. I decided to take two approaches to roasting this coffee. In the first roast I decided to gently ease into the heat, looking for a longer roast that is traditionally associated with Mexican coffees. In the second roast, I decided to push it and create a fast and hot roast that I might do with a large African coffee.
Roast One started with a lower charge temperature and lower heat at 2 gas. Just after turnaround we turned up the heat to 3 gas 1:13 minutes into the roast. We did not reduce the heat until after First Crack where we made a few adjustments until we finished the roast with 1:27 minutes of post crack development time and an end temperature of 401F. Roast Two started with a higher charge of 366F and higher heat at 3 gas which decreased our drying stage by 43 seconds. Because we were moving swiftly along, I decided to reduce the heat to 2 gas just after yellowing and I had plenty of momentum to carry me through to first crack which was almost a full minute sooner than it was in Roast One. Although the beginnings of these roasts were very different, the finish was almost identical. Both roasts had 1:27 minutes of post crack development time and both roasts finished at 401F.
On the cupping table Roast One was very sweet with lots of peach cinnamon and caramel, but the finish was slightly tannic and drying like sun tea. I was a bit nervous about Roast Two because I thought there might be some underdeveloped flavors in the mix, but I was wrong. On the cupping table the coffee was sweet with lots of fruit acidity balanced with a heavy syrupy body.
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.
After visiting Chiapas earlier this year, roasting this coffee carried a certain weight for me. Though I didn’t have the good fortune to be able to meet with Sr. Klein, seeing the general area where his coffee is grown changed my perspective. Knowing a bit of the history of this coffee certainly helps as well.
Seeing that this coffee’s green specs (moisture content, water activity, and density) were fairly middling, I decided to try my general approach. Manual mode, 100% heat until just before crack, and ramping heat down a little afterwards. It would be very hard to miss the beginning of crack on this one. This coffee cracked quite early, and with a good amount of force.
I credit the floral notes in this coffee to my ramping down heat to 50% instead of the usual 75% just before first crack. The strong crack let me know that this coffee was taking on heat easily, and approaching post-crack development more gently worked out fine. I cooled the batch after 1:20 of development.
On the cupping table, the dominant note of this coffee was clearly the caramel sweetness. There was a bit of malic acid expression with green apple and white grape notes coming from some, and a spicy and floral finish of cinnamon and honeysuckle. This coffee is luscious and sweet.
Armed with Sandra’s brew analysis from last year’s harvest, I decided to repeat the same brew process she used with the Chemex so as to allow comparison of the results from year to year. I kept all variables constant aside from the coffee to water ratio, in order to taste the ways that the different brew strengths affect the cup profile.
Brewed at a concentrated 1:15 ratio, Alfred’s coffee yielded a viscous, syrupy sweet cup tasting of orange, vanilla, molasses, raisin, macadamia nut, and milk chocolate. At a looser 1:16, the brew was super clean and balanced, with more florals coming through. The juicy cup featured fruity notes of melon, green apple, citrus zest, and blackberry, and retained a delicious brown sugar sweetness while gaining a floral finish reminiscent of fresh lavender. At the most dilute ratio I brewed (1:17), the coffee continued to perform, though the cup was much tarter and more acidic, with a lemony body complemented with peach, raspberry, crisp pear, cedar, and rounded out with a honey sweetness.
This coffee was super easy and very fun to brew, and was delicious at each ratio! It managed to run the gamut of flavors and ratios without skipping a beat. Phenomenally dynamic, and definitely not one to miss!