Our first purchase from the Fraijanes region, this Yellow Catuai from Freddy Orantes’ farm Buena Vista is one of very few honey processed lots we have seen in Guatemala this year. Fraijanes is much further south than Huehuetenango, where most of our Guatemalan lots have come from this year. Fraijanes lies much closer to the Guatemalan capital Guatemala City, so has felt the effects of urbanisation, with higher costs of production and rising land values leading to some difficulty in maintaining a profitable coffee farm. Freddy’s farm is only around a 90 minute drive from the city, and is a great example of the work that’s possible in this region, leading a move towards higher quality in order to maintain his family business. He has worked on separation of several varietals from the farm, creating traceable micro lots that he can sell for a premium. The warm climate and strong sun in Fraijanes allows more flexibility in processing compared to northern regions like Huehuetenango, making natural and honey processes much more accessible here, allowing Freddy even more opportunity for separation and value creation. This lot was harvested from Freddy’s stock of Yellow Catuai in March, and processed using a rather meticulous honey process. The coffee was first floated to get rid of low density cherries and foreign material, before being depulped using a small manual depulper. The drying process takes place on well-ventilated and shaded raised beds, while the cherry is turned very often; every hour during the initial 3 days, and every 3 hours thereafter. This creates a very even drying, and a consistent level of fermentation. Freddy’s fine work on the farm translates into a clean and elegant cup, with soft and sweet notes of baked apricot, rich toffee and a crisp cacao finish.
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.
With the honey process a certain amount of mucilage and pulp are allowed to remain on the coffee bean during depulping. The cover will stay with the bean during fermentation and drying thereby contributing to the sugars absorbed by the bean and affecting the flavour notes of the final cup. The amount of mucilage remaining defines the type of honey process - white, yellow, red or black in ascending order of mucilage concentration. If they are processed properly, the coffees can take on quite a lot of sweetness and flavours while remaining clean.
Raised drying beds (sometimes referred to as African drying beds) are often preferable when working with honey processed coffees, because of the additional airflow they allow. The air ensures that the beans dry evenly and reduces the incidence of fungi and bacteria formation. On the other hand, some farmers are accustomed to using sun-exposed patio drying that require a regular raking of beans to avoid moulds. While total fermentation and drying time depend on such choices as well as ambient temperature and moisture levels, red honey processing easily needs two weeks from depulping until drying has completed.
You can brew our coffees any way you want it is just a matter of the right ratios.