From the village of Buesaquito (municipality of Buesaco, department of Narino) and the handiwork of MIGUEL HORACIO BENAVIDES PORTILLA comes this delicious honey-processed lot of caturra. It’s not everyday that we buy a honey process coffee so it’s a good chance to talk a little bit about processing (below) and demonstrate why we’ve decided to bring this special coffee your way!
Firstly, provenance-wise, we had a chance to buy this coffee because of our connection to a small commercial enterprise run by the Benavides family called “Alianza”. Horacio’s brother Luis Fernando is head of quality analysis and buying at the company, and has had an impact in the processing of this lot too. Alianza has done an incredible job over the last few years in supporting producers to pick, ferment and dry to specialty standards, and the intrinsic quality revealed with simple adjustments is outstanding. Alianza is located in Buesaco town, which as it’s name “spine” describes, sits astride a thin mountain ridge overlooking valleys to both sides.
Now, processing-wise: once upon a time it was easy to think of perceived (fermented) fruit taste in coffee as determined by a simple equation: if the coffee seed was “fully washed” it had low fruit levels and if “fully unwashed and pod-dried” it had heavy fruit levels. Over recent years, however, the permutations of processing have increased significantly, building on and ultimately confounding this traditional understanding. One of the first significant developments to split this dichotomy above was “honey processing”, a development that drew on the “pulped naturals” of Brazil but was perfected in Costa Rica initially. Roll on a few more years and the levels of flavour-influence through processing have exploded. Now fruit-forward and other interesting profiles can be created through partly and variously fermenting (both before and after removing the cherry skin, with or without air or added water), and different washing techniques are also being applied (single wash, drained but not washed, etc). And we’re just scratching the surface of what’s presently being trialled here!
What appealed to us about this lot is that it’s a super CLEAN tasting fruity coffee, meaning it’s absent of the heavily savoury fermented flavours that typify honey-processed and pod-dried coffees. It’s crisp and complex and interesting but still mostly tastes more like a washed coffee than an unwashed or traditional honey.
We paid $1,575,000 pesos per carga of parchment for this coffee, and Horacio himself received a net $1,450,000, with the balance reimbursing Alianza for their expenses.
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