​Episode 450 on Monday the 26th of June, 2017. El Salvador Finca Argentina San Jorge Washed Bourbon

June 26, 2017
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I've been working with Alejandro since 2008 and in that time our relationship has gone from strictly professional to Ale being one of my closest friends. He became involved in coffee in 2008 as he had just relocated to El Salvador from New York where he'd been working as a city banker. With his first son on the way and the hustle and bustle of New York no place to bring up a family the draw of home and El Salvador was just far too strong to ignore.

While looking for work in El Salvador, Ale decided to help his father with some of his business interests and investments. His father had inherited several coffee farms from his grandfather and was unsure what to do with them, one of the investments pricked Ale’s intent and this was a farm called Finca Argentina. The reason it really got Ale's attention was that he saw the farm once yielded loads of coffee but was producing a fraction of its old productivity. His father gave him permission to see what could be done to make the farm successful again

Ale found out the farm had been classified for a Q auction back in 2005. Thinking there may be a specialty buyer out there he and his cousin (who lived in London) went about sending samples to coffee roasters anywhere they could. 1 of those samples arrived at Hasbean Towers just like a lot of other samples do, but unusually I liked the coffee and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since then Finca Argentina has gone from strength to strength but not without bumps in the road. In 2013 they suffered the worst harvest on record, with only 70 bags harvested due to a massive issue with leaf rust. But with investment and hard work they have also bought a neighbouring farm and the future is amazingly bright for Ale, his father, his family and Finca Argentina.

The farm is based in the Apaneca-Ilamtepec mountain range, and is near the town of Turin in the Ahuachapán department. Sixteen people work on the farm during the non-picking season, maintaining and tending to the plants. This number of workers goes up to 50 people during the picking period. The altitude of the farm is 1,300 m.a.s.l.

This coffee comes from the highest part of the farm called San Jorge, which is about three manzanas in size and ranges from 1,300 to 1,350 metres above sea level. It's a very hilly part of the farm, so it's difficult to pick the coffee there.

Historically, the Owner's Selection coffee came from San Jorge; Alejandro told me his grandfather used to reserve some coffee for his personal enjoyment. I find it interesting that, from all the farms his grandfather used to own (over 250 manzanas' worth of farm), he picked San Jorge to provide the coffee he wanted to drink himself.

The coffee is 100% Bourbon, as 70% of plant stock in El Salvador is. This heirloom varietal is one of the reasons why coffee from this country is right up amongst some of the best in the world. They have the perfect climate and conditions for this low yielding, high maintenance strain.

In the cup expect masses of milk chocolate mixed with sweet caramel, and a green apple acidity that’s like biting into a Granny Smith apple.

  • Country: El Salvador
  • District: Ahuachapán
  • Municipality: Ahuachapán
  • Nearest city: Turin
  • Farm: Finca Argentina
  • Owner: Alejandro Martinez
  • Tablon: San Jorge
  • Altitude: 1,350 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Bourbon
  • Processing method: Washed

CUPPING NOTES

Milk chocolate, sweet, caramel, green apple, Granny Smith.

Clean cup: (1–8): 7
Sweetness: (1–8): 7
Acidity: (1–8): 6
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 7
Flavour: (1–8): 7
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 7
Overall: (1–8): 7
Correction: (+36): +36

Total: (max. 100): 90

Episode 449 on Monday the 19th of June, 2017. Costa Rica Zarcero Finca La Casa Yellow Honey Caturra

June 19, 2017
00:0000:00

This is a coffee grown by the amazing Gillio Francesa Ferraro, a mature guy whom I met on my trip to Costa Rica a couple of years ago. We have a rule at Hasbean that if you're over 40 you can be a character (under 40 and "being a character" just makes you weird). Well, Gillio is the perfect example of a character. The first thing he said to me was that my belly looked as if I ate too much, and that I should lose some weight. I was in the midst of exercising and dieting; his brutal honesty was refreshing, if not a little quirky.

The thing that made me smile was that he was driving an old Jeep that was falling apart (he told me it was from the '60s). The best part was that the engine was a Dorman engine built in Stafford, UK. My father-in-law and two brothers-in-law all work at the factory, and it was amazing to be in a foreign location and yet see something so linked to home.

The name for this coffee in previous years has been a bit of a long one and you might have looked at it and thought, 'oof! Steve that's a bit of a long one!' but I've shortened it a little this year, but let me explain what the different parts mean...

'Costa Rica', I'm sure you can guess, is the country, and then 'Zarcero' is the micro-region/canton of Costa Rica that the coffee comes from.

'Finca La Casa' is the name of the farm that the coffee is grown on.

'Yellow honey' is the processing method, which is a variant of the pulped natural process, and then – finally – 'Caturra' is the varietal of the coffee.

This is not your typical Costa Rican coffee by the way, forget all that has come before; this is a unique cup. It's a Caturra coffee, and is grown at an altitude of 1,700 metres above sea level.

Gillio has two farms in Costa Rica. This one is called Finca La Casa (which just means 'farm at home'), and it can be found in the western valley area of Zarcero. The land around his house is rugged and difficult to farm. Gillio manages to get the very best out of it by working the land every day, even at the age of 83. I hope I'm half as active as he is when I get to that age!

In the cup expect a lovely sweetness, think white sugar with a spoon of extra sugar added. The complexity comes from it’s floral tones, think jasmine and coffee blossom. But the finish is what really makes this coffee, caramelised sugar with a creamy finish, think Creme Brûlée with a lovely toffee note.

  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: Western Valley
  • Province: Alajuela
  • Micro-region: Zarcero
  • Farm: Finca La Casa
  • Producer: Gillio Francesa Ferraro
  • Farm size: 2 hectares
  • Altitude: 1,700 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Caturra
  • Workers: 20 harvest pickers, 4-5 farm workers, and 2 mill workers
  • Pulping: 'Penagos' technology from Colombia – fully washed mechanical elimination of mucilage
  • Processing method: Yellow honey
  • Drying method: Raised African beds

CUPPING NOTES

White sugar, floral, jasmine, coffee blossom, caramelised sugar, Creme Brûlée, toffee.

Clean cup: (1–8): 6
Sweetness: (1–8): 8
Acidity: (1–8): 7
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6.5
Flavour: (1–8): 6.5
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6
Overall: (1–8): 7
Correction: (+36): +36

Total: (max. 100): 89

Episode 44​8​ on Monday the ​12​th of June, 2017. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Wenago Washed

June 12, 2017
00:0000:00

Wenago woreda is located in Yirgacheffe district, Gedeo Zone in the ‘Southern Nations, Nationalities & Peoples’ (SNNP) region of Ethiopia. Over a number of years the region has developed a distinguished reputation for fine coffees, producing some of the most sought-after microlots in world.

The combination of high altitude (up to 2,200m in some areas), fertile soil, consistent & plentiful rains, and an abundance of local knowledge are all contributing factors to the high status of Yirgacheffe coffees.

The indigenous ‘heirloom’ or 'wild' varietals - which grow wild in Ethiopia - are responsible for the unique flavour notes which make for an unusual but beautifully refined cup, usually characterised by strong citric acidity, sweet chocolate and floral/herbal notes of lavender, jasmine, bergamot & thyme.

Ripe cherries are delivered to the Wenago wetmill for careful sorting and pulping, before fermentation for 36-48 hours, depending on the climactic conditions. After this point the parchment coffee is thoroughly washed and graded by bean density before being dried in the sun on raised African beds for 12-15 days (until the ideal moisture level has been reached).

In the daytime the parchment needs to be raked and turned periodically to ensure a consistent drying process. The coffee is also covered between 12pm and 3pm to protect it from the hot sun, and at night time to protect it from rainfall and moisture. Once the coffee has dried to the right level it is transported to Addis Ababa for dry-milling, grading, sorting and handpicking, before being bagged in GrainPro for export.

In the cup there's white sugar and lemon juice, if only there was a shoulder of pancake too! This coffee has a really delicate body with a tiny edge of spice on the finish.

  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Region: Yirgacheffe
  • Zone: Gedeo
  • Area: Chirecha Kebele
  • Mill: Wenago
  • Varietal: Indigenous wild varietals
  • 
Processing method: Washed
  • Fermentation: Yes
  • Fermentation time: 36-48 hours
  • Drying method: Raised African beds
  • Drying time: 12-15 days
  • Altitude: 1,750–1,850 m.a.s.l.

  • Rainfall: 1,800 - 2,000 mm avg per annum
  • Soil: Fertile, red-brown, well drained.
  • Producers: 650 farmers with an average of 2 hectares of land each

CUPPING NOTES

White sugar, lemon juice, delicate, spice.

Clean cup: (1–8): 7
Sweetness: (1–8): 6.5
Acidity: (1–8): 7
Mouthfeel: (1–8): 6.5
Flavour: (1–8): 7
Aftertaste: (1–8): 6
Balance: (1–8): 6.5
Overall: (1–8): 6.5
Correction:(+36): +36

Total: (max. 100): 89

Episode 447 on Monday the 5th of June, 2017. Bolivia Jeivert Estanislao Pañuni

June 4, 2017
00:0000:00

This coffee comes from the town of Irupana in the Yungas region of Bolivia. It's grown at an altitude of between 1,500 and 1,750 metres above sea level, and is a mechanically washed and dry fermented mixture of Red and Yellow Typica, Caturra and Catuai.

Estanislao Pañuni is young, enthusiastic and a self-confessed coffee lover. (Just like me!) He started out in coffee with the job of controlling the fermentation process at the Coaraca Cooperative in Bolivia, and it was there that he really developed his skills as a coffee producer. Two years ago he decided he wanted to help his father, and so he moved away from his day job to take on a role producing coffee with his dad. This coffee is the product of all that hard work, learning and family love.

In the cup I immediately get loads of caramel followed up by sweet yellow fruits, think peaches and plums. The cup finishes with nectarine and an aftertaste of dark chocolate.

  • Country: Bolivia
  • Department: La Paz
  • Region: Yungas
  • Province: Caranavi
  • Town: Irupana town
  • Farm name: Jeivert
  • Producer: Estanislao Pañuni
  • Altitude: 1,500-1,750 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietal: Typica, Caturra and Catuai
  • Ripe cherry colour: Red and Yellow
  • Processing method: Washed
  • Washing: Mechanical
  • Fermentation: Dry fermentation for 16-18 hours
  • Drying: African beds for 7–8 days
  • Coordinates: 16°27′58″S 67°27′17″O