About the coffee
Arlex is particularly interesting due to his treatment of this high quality raw material. Typically for Nariño, Arlex is based on a very steep mountainside, so the paths that give access to the farm are demanding at best, especially when carrying kilos of cherry during harvest. Arlex’s innovative solution to this is keep picked cherry uphill in the lot itself, tied up in the bags it is harvested into. When he has built up enough, he and a few workers drag a portable depulper into the field itself, depulping amongst the trees, before carrying the parchment coffee down to the fermentation tanks to continue a traditional washed process. Apart from easing workflow, this means that some of the cherry has begun to ferment in these sealed bags before depulping, some for up to four days, some for only a few hours. It was this varying degree of fermentation, and the depth and complexity it brings, which inspired the ‘fed-batch’ process that fellow LaREB members such as Ana Mustafá and Lizardo Herrera now use on their farms. A resourceful workflow solution that led to a jump in quality; beautiful mistakes like this are one of our favourite things about visiting origin and working closely with talented producers like Arlex. This year the lot is intense and syrupy, with crisp red fruit notes.
Redcurrant, Raspberry and Caramel.
This lot by Arlex Muñoz is another sourced in collaboration with our friends from the LaREB collective. Arlex has been part of the collective for some time now, and was one of the first members from the Nariño region. He is part of the Comercio Café union run by Doña Esperanza Reyes and her family in the regional capital La Union. We are rather familiar with Comercio Café, having purchased several lots from here in the past, including this year from Lady Moncayo and Doña Esperanza herself. The union has shared quality control and agronomic services, helping local farmers to produce and sell high quality separated microlots. Nariño in general has plentiful very high altitude, and cool climates, leading to very slow ripening and dense coffee cherries. This carries through into intense concentrated flavours in the cup, with a high degree of clarity.
The washed process involves completely removing both the cherry and the mucilage from the outside of the parchment with the use of friction, fermentation and water. After being harvested, the coffee cherry is then sliced open by either a metal or a sharp plastic blade. The two seeds (also known as beans) are pushed out of the cherry, which leaves the seed with mucilage as their outermost layer. It is essential in the washed process that all mucilage is removed from the seed which leaves only the flavor that developed in the cell structure of the seed prior to processing.
About La Cabra
A focus on raw material
If we don’t feel that a coffee suits our style or what we like to present, we simply won’t buy it. Sometimes this leads to issues in green buying; we have to pay very close attention, to a level of green quality that will support this approach, and to how this will develop over the life of a coffee. We are required to focus heavily on the freshness of coffee, both green and roasted, to avoid introducing taints into our cups. We always use clean and fresh water, of an ideal mineral content to present the coffee in its best possible light. Once we have the correct roasting profile, water, and coffee age, the act of brewing is much more simple. A wide variance in brewing parameters can still produce delicious and transparent cups. It is also important to note that this is not always the most consistent approach. The coffee is laid completely bare, so any flaw with the raw material is clearly on show. We could often develop some coffees slightly more, to make them more approachable or easy to work with, but wavering from our philosophy like this would compromise our commitment to complete transparency in coffee.Read more