Just when I think we’ve seen the best Ecuador has to offer this year, a coffee like this comes along. This unique offering from Finca Cruz Loma has a lot going for it. First, it is a single variety consisting entirely of the Caturra cultivar. Caturra is a natural mutation of Bourbon that was first discovered in Brazil in the early 1900s. While it never took off with farmers in Brazil, it really gained a following in Central America as well as in Colombia and Ecuador. Known for a clean, bright cup, it makes an excellent candidate for an experimental process such as Anaerobic Macerated Honey.
Most roasters are likely now familiar with the popular honey processing method. As a quick overview, honey processing is a hybrid between natural and washed processing. This means that some or most of the fruit is allowed to dry on the beans imparting complimentary sweetness without making the profile too intense or losing a great deal of acidity. Anaerobic Maceration is a very scientific way of saying “fermentation without oxygen.” While all coffee undergoes some amount of fermentation, what makes this process experimental is taking oxygen out of the equation by putting the coffee in a sealed environment. How long the coffee is allowed to ferment has a huge impact on flavor and a farmer can choose a few hours up to a few weeks. Galo Morales has chosen a very conservative 8 hours with this coffee, allowing enough time to break down the fruit and open the sweetness in the cup without compromising its brightness and making it taste “fermenty” and unpleasantly winey. In fact, I’d say this is one of the most accessible experimental coffees I’ve ever tried! So if you’ve been turned off from them by an experience that was too intense, this coffee is a great way to give em another try and see what’s possible.
Reminder! This coffee is raw, you must roast it before brewing
Arrival Date: July 1st, 2022. US Arrival: May 2022
Acidity & Brightness: Moderate acidity, sweet
Balance & Finish: Moderate balance, dry, floral finish
Body & Texture: Full bodied, creamy texture
Flavors: Orange, caramel, raisin and banana
Grade: SHB, grown at 1450 masl
Processing: Anaerobic Macerated Honey: Cherries floated and then submerged and macerated for 8 hours after depulping. Dried under canopy for 25-30 days.
Grower: Galo Fernando Morales Flores & Maria Alexandra | Finca Cruz Loma
Region: San José de Minas, Pichincha, Ecuador
Recommended Roast Range: City to Full City (Light to medium)
We like this coffee best at City+ (light-medium) or near the end of 1st crack. However, it will perform well anywhere from City to Full Medium (light to medium). Lighter roasts that finish early in first crack will add a bit more zest and brightness, emphasizing orange and the dry finish. For more balanced sweetness, push the roast into Full Medium or between 1st and 2nd crack.
Royal Coffee - "Galo Fernando Morales Flores, along with his wife Maria Alexandra Rivera and his extended family, grow coffee on their 350-hectare plot in the community of San José de Minas, a small town in the northwestern part of Pichincha, a short trip north of Quito. They describe their farm, Finca Cruz Loma, as a marvelous paradise whose temperate, tropical climate allows for a huge variety of flora to thrive—the family grows guanábana (soursop), corn, beans, and a plethora of citrus—all in addition to coffee. Coffee, though always a source of income, has recently brought a lot of recognition for Galo, Maria Alexandra, and the whole family, as winners of Pichincha’s regional quality competition and as featured producers in Ecuador’s national barista competition, both in 2019. In 2020, Cruz Loma took third place in the national “Taza Dorada” quality competition. Across residents and tourists alike Ecuador has a strong domestic market for roasted coffee, so honors such as these have no small impact on a farm’s brand. Finca Cruz Loma has been in Galo’s family going back 80 years. Together the family oversees four unique processes for their coffee: fully washed; “anaerobic” washed, honey, and natural. This specific lot is a honey process with a slight twist to it. After picking, cherry is floated for density and then depulped; however, unlike a traditional honey process wherein cherry proceeds directly from depulping to drying, the Morales family prefers to add a short period of anaerobic fermentation. This brief step, an 8-hour ferment with the coffee just barely covered in water, is meant to break down some (but not all) of the remaining mucilage and develop the coffee’s acidity profile. Once the fermentation is complete the coffee is moved to dry on covered raised beds, typically for 25-30 days. The result is most definitely a uniquely delicious honey process coffee: distinct confectionary sweetness, raspberry, pomegranate and red grape flavors, and punchy fruit acids are all evident in the cup. Removing partial amounts of mucilage by design is not uncommon in honey processing. In fact, doing so gives the Morales family something very much in common with many of Costa Rica’s best producers. Honey coffees are often mechanically de-mucilaged to different degrees in Costa Rica, according to each farm’s preference; controlling mucilage levels this way in honey processing allows producers to develop highly-precise sweetness profiles and, if they choose, a variety of distinct honey processes from a single crop. The principal harvest months in northern Pichincha are June to September, but the family continues picking through December. Ecuador’s namesake position on the Earth’s equator means that medium-altitude coffee enjoys practically a perfect year-round growing season, often with flowering and ripe cherry sharing the same branch most months."