About the coffee
The lot we have purchased this year is also a honey processed Colombia varietal lot. Ripe cherries were floated and carefully sorted, before being fermented in sealed plastic tanks for 8 days. After 3 days water was added to the tank, slowing down the temperature increase and therefore the fermentation. This extra layer of control allows for a long anaerobic pre-fermentation without introducing negative flavours to the cup. The coffee was then de-pulped and transferred to raised beds to dry slowly under shade, for about 30 days. After the long pre-fermentation, much of the mucilage has already broken down and been removed from the seed, so the fermentation during drying is minimal, but still adds layers of complexity. This leads to one of our most interesting releases yet from Nariño, with a deep and rich character of berry jam.
Blackberry jam, Caramel and Milk Chocolate.
This is the second time we have purchased coffee from Lady Moncayo and her family in Nariño. A remote and mountainous region of very high altitudes and high quality coffees, Nariño is probably second only to Huila when it comes to the most sought-after speciality coffee regions of Colombia. The region normally produces very vibrant and bright coffees, with crisp citric acidity. However the Moncayo siblings, five sisters and one brother, are doing things rather differently, with a sharp focus on Lady’s processing expertise. In an attempt to produce more consistent coffees, Lady attended a course by SENA in La Union, the regional capital of Nariño, in 2017. SENA is the ‘National Training Service’, a government-run programme which develops training for the Colombian labour force, in an attempt to increase the competitiveness of Colombian business on the international stage. In this case, a teacher had been hired to share knowledge about coffee processing with a group of producers from Nariño. This teacher also told Lady of the increased prices she and her family could receive if they were to produce differentiated and high-quality micro-lots. This inspired Lady to start experimenting with processing on the family farm. This experimentation is still ongoing, only small amounts of each harvest are processed using Lady’s alternative methods, with much of the rest of the coffee having a much more traditional profile. The rather different cup profile that Lady created initially turned off many buyers, until she met members of the LaREB collective in early 2019. Experts in alternative processing and slightly unconventional flavour profiles, LaREB immediately saw potential in Lady and her family, and bought their first lot immediately. This honey lot ended up in Denmark with us, and was one of the first we shared through our subscription programme after our move to Copenhagen.
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.
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