On Thursday, July 10th,
Stone Creek Coffee will be launching it’s first ever Case Study Series called “How does coffee bean processing affect flavor?”
We sourced these coffees during our
trip to Guatemala from a farm called San Sebastian. The farm sits at the base
of the Acatenango Volcano in Antigua, Guatemala. The farm extends over 500
hectares, ranging from altitudes of 1200-2000m. Estuardo Falla Castillo, a
fourth generation coffee farmer, and Edgar Cabrera Cozza oversee the farm.
(San Sebastian Farm) (Red Bourbon at San Sebastian)
This coffee comes from a particular
section of the farm known as Santa Domingo. Here, Estuardo and Edgar cultivated
the Caturra Amarillo variety at 1500 meters above sea level in sandy loam soil.
Picked between January and March, this coffee underwent three different processing
Sustainability is integral to the
values of San Sebastian. Macadamia trees line coffee fields, providing shade
for the plants. Workers and children have access to a K-12 school located on
the farm. Many picking families have worked on the farm for 30-50 years!
There are hundreds of variables
that affect the flavor of your coffee –most of which occur before we roast it!
Though highlighting one variable, such as processing, we are able to
demonstrate how one variable can dramatically affect the flavor. When traveling
to farms like San Sebastian, it’s inspiring to meet growers like Estuardo and
Edgar, who make daily decisions about put in hard labor to start the process.
The three styles of processing in
this box are washed, semi-washed, and natural.
Coffee grows inside of a fruit
called a coffee cherry. The method of removing the fruit has a dramatic effect
on the flavor of the coffee. There are three primary methods of processing,
each producing a unique result.
Washed: A pulper removes the skin
and most of the fruit (also called mucilage) from the beans. Coffee then soaks
in washing tanks for 12-24 hours. This encourages controlled fermentation,
developing flavor and removing excess mucilage. Once washed, the coffee dries
via sunlight on patios for 15 days.
(Washing tanks at San Sebastian)
Semi-Washed: A pulper removes the
skin around the cherry, but leaves part of the mucilage around the bean. The
mucilage dries onto the parchment, soaking extra sugars into the bean. It dries
via sunlight on patios for 12 days.
(Semi-washed yellow caturra drying on patio; washed is to right)
Natural: The coffee cherry remains
intact and dries onto the coffee bean. Coffee cherries dry on patios or drying
beds for 18 days, absorbing the concentrated sugars and acids from the fruit.
(Natural process drying on the patio)
This Case Study Box also represents
our commitment to Farm to Cup model of buying coffee. We care where your coffee
comes from. Sure, we could call a coffee importer, place an order, and get it
next day. However, we want to go that extra step and actually know where our
coffees come from. We hop on a plane, meet the farmer, see their farm, see
their mill, understand their mission, and work directly to pick, processes, and
sort the best coffee. We currently source about 70% of our coffee via this
model, but our goal is to source it all this way. This is what we believe. It’s
Farm to Cup in motion. Sip Slowly!