This is the third harvest we’ve purchased from Elias Roa Parra’s Finca Tamana. His work with Tim Wendelboe is an outstanding model of the quality that occurs with improvements focused on fundamentals. Elias and Tim focus on crop nutrition, picking, harvesting, pulping, fermentation, and drying controls. Crop nutrition is the foundation of efficiency for farmers. Removing defects during picking increases the overall quality of the final lot. Defects can originate at the plant and contribute to loss of yield and diminished quality.
Harvesting and hand-sorting are the first human-controlled sorting phases in the process. Elias negotiated quality standards with the workers that live in the area to individually float the harvest and remove beans with visible color, ripeness, or pest defects. This is a meticulous addition to the process and requires a significant investment in labor to have it done well. Once this is completed, the next step is to remove the skin and pulp through pulping and fermentation. Both pulping and fermentation can contribute to diminish quality if not managed well, but if managed well it can be a source of improvement.
Elias maintains very clean equipment and fermentation tanks to manage consistency. Plus, he uses a fermentation and cleaning method where the coffee is fermented overnight and washed twice, improving the cleanliness of the coffee and cup. Drying is a preservation stage for storage and transport, but it is also a very important quality phase where temperature, humidity, and sun exposure can influence the stability and cup quality. Elias uses 50% shade to keep drying temps down.
Team taste notes: toffee, nougat, grape, apple, pear, brown spice
Decaf EA Cauca is from the southwestern region of Cauca, Colombia. It is washed and milled at Centra Cooperativa Indigena del Cauca. They are a Fair Trade certified cooperative that works with farmers in Cauca and beyond.
The coffee is decaffeinated in Colombia as well at the Descafecol plant using ethyl acetate derived from locally-grown sugarcane.
Team taste notes: graham, molasses, brown spice, strawberry, apple, applewood
InterAmerican describes the EA decaf process done at Descafecol quite well:
Descafecol is the only decaffeination plant in the Andean region of Colombia. The plant relies entirely on the pure water from the Navado el Ruis (a snow-capped volcano on the border of the departments of Caldas and Tolima) and natural ethyl acetate from sugar cane plants in Palmira, Colombia.
Ethyl acetate is an organic compound (C4H8O2) with a sweet smell—it’s created during fermentation and contributes to what’s often described as the “fruitiness” in a young wine.
At Descafecol, the decaffeination process begins with steaming the green coffee at a very low pressure to remove the silver skins. The beans are then moistened with hot water, which causes them to swell and soften
and begins the hydrolysis of the caffeine, which is bonded to salts of
chlorogenic acid. (Hydrolysis refers water interacting with a compound and causing it to loosen from other particles.)
The ethyl acetate solvent is then circulated through the beans multiple times until at least 97 percent of the caffeine is removed. A low-pressure, saturated steam is then applied to remove any last traces of the ethyl
acetate, and finally the coffee is vacuum-dried in drums to remove any water and bring the final moisture level to between 10 and 12 percent.
The coffee is cooled to ambient temperature with fans and then polished with carnauba wax to protect it against humidity. Ultimately, no more than 5 ppm of ethyl acetate is left in the coffee, and once the coffee is roasted, there is no trace of it at all.
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