RATNAGARI - India
Carbonica maceration washed
May - June 2020
Berry, Vanilla, Malt, Spicy, Red Fruits
Located in the town of Pitalito in Huila, Colombia, El Mirador is a 32-hectare farm with 30 hectares of coffee. The farm includes a broad collection of varieties like Catiope, Mokka, Tabi, and Gesha, as well as three different Bourbon strains including Orange, Striped, and Pink Bourbon. Caturra is a core variety for the farm as well, making it a staple for volume lots.
Recognised by coffee authorities as Sasa Sestic -Worlwide Barista Champion 2015-, Maxwell Colonna -UK Barista Champion and three times world finalist- and others, as one of the most pioneering and exceptional coffee farmers in the world, Elkin Guzman is what we can call a coffee farmer geek. I had the opportunity to visit him last January -precovid season, as part of my yearly trip to select rare and outstanding coffees for our roastery in coffee producers countries - and I was witness of his exceptional passion and deep knowledge in incredible techniques to process coffees according to each profile (wow, experiences of this visit will be released soon in a special blog post).
His family has always been involved in coffee cultivation, trading, or retail. Collectively, his family has celebrated over 70 years in coffee now, with 12 years of research devoted to post-harvest processing techniques. All of this research and experience has brought Elkin to utilize multiple processing techniques depending on the individual lot of coffee, including Coffee Maceration, Lactic and Acetic Natural processes, and Natural Hydro Honey. Harvest and post-harvest procedures are highly standardized for consistency and quality. First, the sugar content of the coffee cherries is measured in degrees Brix, followed by density and volumetric separation. Finally, the decision is made on which processing method is best suited to bring each lot to its fullest potential. The processing methods used by Elkin embody his pioneering spirit, combining different approaches to fermentation and drying techniques to complement each coffee's inherent characteristics.
In the case of this lot of Tabi coffee, the team at El Mirador chose carbonic maceration washed. Tabi is a coffee cultivar that was released by Cenicafé in 2002. It was developed by crossing Bourbon, Typica, and Timor coffees, and offers the positive cup characteristics of Bourbon and Typica while having greater resistance to la roya coffee leaf rust. The Carbonic Maceration Washed process begins with selecting cherries that have measured between 20–24 degrees Brix. The coffee is first sorted by floating the cherries in water to remove defects, which is followed by hand sorting to remove dark and overripe fruit. After sorting, the cherries are fermented in plastic tubs for 60–96 hours before being pulped. The pulped coffee is then put back into the tubs with the same juice that was produced during the initial fermentation; this juice is rich in sugars and microorganisms which aid in the secondary fermentation. The tubs are sealed for this stage, allowing the microorganisms to metabolize the sugar chains of the cherry’s mucilage and thereby building up CO2 in the containers, creating the environment for carbonic maceration. This fermentation lasts for 80–120 hours before the coffee is fully washed, finally moving to be dried for 18–25 days.
Region Description: The Colombian Department of Huila is located in the southern portion of the country where the Central and Eastern ranges of the Andes mountains converge. Huila’s capital city of Neiva is dry, flat, and desert-like, markedly different from the coffee regions further south.
Centered around the town of Pitalito, Huila’s coffee farms are predominantly smallholder owned, and over the past ten years have made concerted efforts to produce specialty coffee that reveals the full character of the region’s terroir. Selective manual harvesting, attentive processing, and careful post-harvest sorting all contribute to increasing recognition of the region.