About the coffee
This lot was fermented under anaerobic conditions before slow-drying for almost 40 days under shade, allowing ample time for complex ripe fruit notes to be emphasised. All-in-all, one of the finest and most characterful Mexican coffees we have yet tasted, and a project we look forward to continuing our collaboration with.
Cherry, Apricot and Carame.
Creating a community
Cafeólogo is a project by Jesús Salazar, focussing mainly on indigenous coffee growers in the area around San Cristobal de las Casas in central Chiapas, the southernmost region of Mexico. San Cristobal is located rather close to the border with Guatemala, and is in fact only around 200 km or about a 5 hour drive from San Marcos Huista in Huehuetenango, where we have purchased several coffees in the past, including from Ana Ramirez. Starting in 2010, Jesús initially worked with 4 small producers in order to supply his own roastery. One of these producers was the producer of this lot, Pedro Vasquez. He told Jesús that he had spoken with many producers who were interested in working this way, creating high quality lots to sell to international buyers at better prices. One of the main challenge of this was working together with very different groups of people in this very diverse region. Rural Chiapas, like Huehuetenango, is mainly inhabited by descendants of Mayan peoples, but even within these communities there are deep cultural divides, often based on political ideologies. Creating a community space where these people can meet on the same level, gathering around a common goal, has been one of the most rewarding parts of Cafeólogo’s work. Jesús’ team have had to learn the local Mayan dialects, and only through this are they able to work directly to improve conditions for these producers by creating added value microlots. The wider industry here limits these producers’ access to knowledge, education, investment, and to the wider coffee market, effectively limiting their horizons and perpetuating a neo-colonial coffee chain. Cafeólogo feel that this area has a great potential, and the producers here have everything the need to create sustainable businesses in the coffee market, if only they are given access to it. Providing this access is Cafeólogo’s goal, alongside creating a gathering space for the community.
Like most of the producers who work with Cafeologo, although not certified, Pedro Vasquez works with organic principles in his coffee fields, making use of untouched native Chiapas forest, with local species and biodiversity maintained wherever possible. While only working with 4 hectares of land, Pedro and his family are highly committed to the coffee industry, helping to care for Cafeologo’s varietal garden, and helping to establish the community washing station San Pedro. This lot, mainly of Maragogype with a small portion of Caturra was harvested in April of last year, and processed in collaboration with Jesus. One of the main ways Cafeologo are able to add value to lots of coffee is through innovative processing, and it was due to this that Jesus undertook his education as a Q-processor.
The coffee is first pulped mechanically, removing most of the fruit, as with a white honey process. The parchment coffee and almost gel-like mucilage are then packed tightly into a small fermentation tank, and sealed with almost no oxygen present. As the fermentation starts to occur, carbon dioxide is produced, creating a completely anaerobic environment, and also high pressure within the tank. This affects coffee flavour in two ways. An anaerobic environment favours a very different set of fermenting bacteria and yeast, leading to a dominant lacto-fermentation. The pressure also forces coffee juices into the seed itself, adding more fermentable sugars to continue the process. The coffee is then dried with the mucilage still attached, as with a honey processed coffee. All of this adds layers of complexity to the final cup.
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