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Roast Level: Medium
Process: Fully washed/Washed & silo dried
Varietal: Caturra, Typica, Garnica, Colombia
Roaster's Notes: This finely balanced blend makes for an espresso with notes of milk and dark chocolate, hazelnuts and figs with a very creamy mouthfeel.
Producer: Cecilia Camberos (Consolapan) & Other Farmers from Coatepec/Echavarria Family
Region: Veracruz, Mexico/Antioquia,Colombia
Altitude: 1263 - 1700 metres
Background information - Cafe de Coatepac, Mexico:
This coffee was produced by various farmers working in the area surrounding Coatepec, in the Mexican State of Veracruz. All the farmers contributing to this lot farm the rich, volcanic soils of Northern Veracruz, nearby the historic town of Xalapa (var. Jalapa) – the state’s beautiful capital.
The name Xalapa (ha-la-pa) comes from the Nahuatl roots xālli [ˈʃaːlːi] "sand" and āpan [ˈaːpan] "water place", translating more or less to ‘spring in the sand’. The mention of water is appropriate; unlike the common perception of Veracruz as all palm trees and humid heat, the mountains around the capital city are high in elevation and their cool and cloudy climes are perfect for growing high quality coffee.
The municipality of Coatepec borders Xalapa to the south and shares the same, unique climate. The primary farm contributing to this lot (60%) – Finca Consolapan – is known throughout the area as one of the best farms in the region. And it is certainly one of the most interesting!
Owner, Cecilia Camberos, is a fascinating woman who owns no fewer than 15 dogs!! She, herself, lives in Coatepec and produces her coffee with the utmost passion. From generation to generation she and her forbearers have conducted careful plant selection and used only the best farming and processing practices to ensure the very best quality coffee reaches their customers.
Despite the passion that Cecilia brings to her farm, which has won various coffee awards, the family still leases some properties in the city because the income generated from their agricultural activities on the farm’s 22 hectares is still not enough to make ends meet. When the weather and conditions allow it, the farm also produces beans and sugar cane, which are planted in specific areas of the farm. Monte Verde, another contributing farm, also produces papaya, which is its main agricultural export.
Both face many challenges in achieving their goals: the high cost of the coffee trees for renovation, the cost of fertilisers, foliar nutrients, presence of plagues and illness such as coffee leaf rust and coffee borer beetles. In the unstable economy, it is not unusual for farms in the region to be robbed, with coffee sometimes being stolen right off the trees.
Despite the significant challenges, Cecilia and the 8 people who help her farm Consolapan year-round keep working to make the farm the best that it can be. Fertilisation activities are held during June and September. Regular pruning and renovation activities are conducted throughout the year. New varieties are planted. The farm keeps striving for excellence.
Currently the primary varieties planted are the more traditional ones: Typica and Bourbon are maintained due to their good cup quality; Garnica is maintained due to its productivity. However, farms within the region are slowly also introducing Marsellesa and Oro Azteca due to their resistance to coffee leaf rust and the good cup quality they show.
During the harvest season, Finca Consolapan adds an additional 40 people to their labour force. All workers received training in their jobs and are brought up to date in all health and safety requirements.
All coffee on the farm is selectively hand harvested, with only the best ripe cherries being picked at each pass. Coffee is manually sorted and then floated in clean water to remove the ‘pintos’ and the underweight cherries. Wet milling for the Consolapan lot is conducted at the Agroindustrias Unidas De México (AMSA) Coatepec facilities, which are located 10 minutes away from the farm.
Coffee cherries from each of the farms contributing to this lot are received separately so as to maintain traceability and to ensure quality. High quality and certified lots (such as coffee from these contributing farms) are given priority for pulping over the rest of the conventional coffee received at the mill. After pulping, the coffee is delivered to fermentation tanks where it will ferment for 8-12 hours. After this, the coffee is passed through a centrifugal demucilager before then being dried in guardiolas or on patios. On average, coffee is dried for around 30 hours at a slow and even temperature.
It is only after the coffee is rested and cupped that AMSA’s team of expert cuppers marry like lots together to form regional lots such as this one.
For all the farms in the Coatepec region, climate change can very clearly be seen. Previously in the region, there was very little issue with coffee leaf rust or coffee borer beetle. Average temperatures hovered at 18-22°C. However, today these averages have increased to 27 - 35°C, and various illnesses and plagues (including coffee leaf rust) have begun to affect coffee trees even at higher altitudes. Furthermore, flowering periods and ripening times have been affected, and the harvest period has begun to vary quite a bit from crop to crop. Climate change also has other impacts: for instance, beneficial insects such as bees (so crucial to polinisation) frequent Consolapan much less these days, and Cecilia has begun to hire beekeepers to bring them to the farm during the flowering period.
The farms contributing to this lot have all begun to renovate their plantations with better, more resistant and faster growing varieties. However, the greatest challenge for all of them is the continued low price of coffee. Producers still carry many of the costs, risks, supplies, labour, etc – and many in the Coatepec region are abandoning the countryside after years of selling their product at a loss.
All the producers contributing to this Coatepec lot are working with AMSA to stop this flow of resource out of the region by focusing on quality. By continuing to place their coffee on higher value speciality markets, AMSA is ensuring the longevity of coffee in this special coffee origin.
Background Information – La Joyeria, Colombia
La Joyeria truly is ‘the jewel’ of the Estate. These lots are grown at an average altitude of 1700 meters and are 100% Colombia variety. Each lot is composed of two days worth of picking; the coffee picked on the second day is added to the first after 24 hours fermentation and then left to ferment in the tanks for a further 24 hours. In this method of fermentation, the second batch raises the ph level of the fermentation tank, permitting longer fermentation times without the acetic acid produced by bacteria at a lower ph level.
La Joyería is named for and processed at the main mill on the Santa Bárbara farm. The mill can process up to 7,000 bags of coffee; however, La Joyería makes up a very small percentage of this volume. It is also stored and milled separately from the volume production.
Santa Bárbara Estate employs 60 people all year round, who on average earn 30% above the minimum wage. Half of these also receive free housing within the farm for themselves and their families. A further 1,200 pickers are hired during the main harvest, comprised mainly of farmers from around the Santa Bárbara Estate who pick coffee to supplement their income. Workers are generally long-term employees and have been with the company for more than 10 years.
The Santa Bárbara Estate also runs an extensive scholarship and financial aid program for worker’s children as well as helping long-standing employees to acquire their own piece of land upon retirement.