Every year we visit farms around the world. So far the focus has been on Latin America where we have visited Colombia, Costa Rica. Ecuador and Panama. On every trip we have met with and formed strong relationships with inspiring farmers and exporters who have helped us develop a deeper appreciation of how different choices in harvesting and processing can radically change the sensory experience in the final cup.
Coffee is a seasonal fruit and depending on the country of origin and the specific microclimate, a plant will bear fruit at different times throughout the year. While many regions have a larger and a smaller harvest, others will in reality produce fruit nearly year-round. This depends critically on the varietal, the microclimate and now increasingly on changes in climate. When we speak of seasonality it would therefore make sense to also mention that different coffee varietals within the same farm can actually bear fruit at different times throughout the year. Our job is to find them when they are at their best.
Every year we are able to observe slight changes in the cup profiles of coffees that we have worked with owing to improved processing or the stresses of climate change. As time goes by we understand the importance of one processing decision over another in determining whether a coffee will fit with our taste philosophy. Because when all is said and done the decision to buy a coffee or not is made on the cupping table. It’s a remarkable experience to stand around a cupping table alongside growers, exporters and other roasters in a country of origin and evaluate tens of cups from several farms. This is where we can truly observe the differences between how we and others approach coffee selection.
We select coffees that will perform extraordinarily on the cupping table. This means looking for aromas and flavour notes that will complement our Brighter is Better philosophy by allowing clean and pure notes to stand out after the coffee is roasted. Proper roasting allows us to emphasise the unique character of each coffee based on the varietal, the terroir and the processing. This means finding the right balance between the development of sugars at different temperatures during roasting, which form the basis of flavour compounds. Compared with other roasters worldwide, we roast relatively lightly and aim never to have a roaster character in the final cup profile, but rather to offer our clients a clean and complex sensory experience.
This takes us back to the philosophy at the heart of how we prepare coffees at La Cabra -we always aim for Brightness. Paying close attention to raw material and understanding the terroir and processing methods at coffee farms we source from is paramount to our roasting process. Attention to detail during roasting is paramount to proper brewing. And proper brewing is paramount being able to produce a sensory experience that we can stand behind.