Finca Santa Sofia Decaf, Guatemala
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Roast Level: Medium
Varietal: Primarily Caturra & Catuaí
Roaster's Notes: We had the non-decaffeinated version of this coffee in at the beginning of 2018, and was a resounding hit with its basey chocolate and stewed fruit notes. This decaf incarnation is much the same, decaffeinated using the CO2 process, which a rich, nutty body.
Producer: Pablo José Ferrigno Figueroa
Region: Alta Verapaz, Cobán
Altitude: 1,675 metres
In the late 1980s, Pablo José Ferrigno Figueroa, a third generation coffee grower, had the fortune to attend a conference in which the topic of ‘quality’ was widely discussed as the future of coffee. Just three years later, in 1991, Pablo decided to embark on the new adventure of establishing a coffee farm devoted entirely to the production of speciality coffee.
Pablo’s roots were in coffee: his grandfather came from Italy and had established several farms alongside a coffee exporting business. His father also had a farm. Pablo had cultivated an interest in coffee from an early age and had worked on his family’s farms for years as a young adult. However, all of the family’s experience was with low grown coffee in Guatemala’s warm coastal areas. Speciality coffee required a different climate, not to mention a different approach!
The only question was where to begin this new endeavour. Being a young entrepreneur and something of a maverick, Pablo opted for Alta Verapaz – a region that despite its wet cool climate gathered together all the growing conditions he was looking for. He found a medium sized plot of land for sale in the town of Tactic - not at all a common place for coffee production due to its unusually cold weather. Many friends and family (not to mention other coffee farmers) were sceptical about the location and his plans, and Pablo knew that the road ahead would be difficult. Nonetheless, on October 15th 1991, he carried a bag of coffee seeds to the area in order to start his nursery and, in that moment Finca Santa Sofia was born. Pablo named the farm for his first daughter, who was born in the same year.
Even today, Santa Sofia is the only coffee farm in the immediate micro-region and produces one of the best coffees in the region. Today the farm produces Caturra, Catuai, Typica and Catimor with a total annual production of some 500 bags per year, 100% of which is sold as speciality coffee.
Coffee is selectively harvested, with only the ripest cherries being picked. After harvesting, the red cherries are taken to the farm’s receiving tanks where they are then mechanically pulped. Coffee is fermented for up to 48 hours and after fermentation, the coffee is washed and then soaked in clean water for 24 hours to remove any traces of mucilage before being dried.
Finca Santa Sofia dries most of their coffee on patios, though due to the region’s almost constant rain, the farm often has to use guardiolas to finish drying, which is accomplished according to a very strict and controlled drying schedule. Coffee is rotated in these mechanical driers at no more than 40°C and is rested between dryings to stabilise humidity. Once the parchment coffee reaches an ideal humidity, it is rested for at least 21 days in the warehouse before being delivered to the dry mill for milling.
Description of the CR3 Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Coffee Decaffeination Process (European patent no. 0316694, US patent no. 5135766)
One of the vital elements and most important compounds of our natural environment is carbon dioxide. It is in the air we breathe, it is the gas that makes mineral water effervescent and, by assimilation, enables plants to grow. It is also a highly selective solvent for caffeine. Based on this phenomenon, CR3 developed its Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Coffee Decaffeination Process. In this patented process, the natural carbon dioxide is used under sub-critical conditions, i.e. in a liquid state at low temperature and pressure (relative to the supercritical process). These particularly gentle process parameters, together with the good caffeine selectivity of CO2, guarantee a high retention rate of the coffee components responsible for aroma and taste. The process can be described in detail as follows:
The raw, unroasted coffee is moistened with water and put into a vessel where it is brought into contact with pressurised, liquid carbon dioxide. By circulation through the coffee, the carbon dioxide draws the caffeine out of the bean. In an evaporator, the caffeine precipitates out from the CO2 which, after evaporation and re-condensation, is pumped again into the vessel containing the coffee for a new cycle. When the required residual caffeine level is reached, the CO2 circulation is stopped and the coffee is discharged into a drier where it is gently dried until it reaches the original moisture content. The coffee is then ready for roasting.
The specific characteristics of the CR3 Natural Liquid Carbon Dioxide Coffee Decaffeination Process are:
the compounds responsible for the flavour and the taste in the roasted and brewed coffee, as well as the cell structure of the green and roasted bean, are left essentially intact. This is of clear benefit in fine, high grade coffees
absolutely no health risk involved since the coffee is placed in contact with only 100% safe substances – the chemically-inert (and completely evaporating) carbon dioxide, and pure water the extraction solvent is all natural – an important aspect that represents a strong selling point (“Naturally Decaffeinated”) certification as Organic and Kosher by the appropriate organisations/authorities a broad appeal that allows the roaster to offer a high-quality 99.9% caffeine-free decaffeinated coffee that will satisfy even the most discriminating taste