Continent: Central America
Farm: Finca La Huella
Process: Cold Anaerobic Natural
Variety: H1 Centroamericano
White Grape, Milk chocolate, Berries. A sweet dessert like cup.
H1, or Centroamericano, is a relatively new hybrid varietal developed in Central
America that was released in 2010. It’s a cross between a Rume Sudan and a
specific strain of Sarchimor. This makes H1 resistant to coffee leaf rust and highly
productive (about 22 - 47% more productive than traditional varieties such as
Caturra). Besides these agricultural benefits, the variety performs extremely well
cup quality wise as well. H1 is highly demanding nutritionally but it starts
producing fairly quickly (we obtained our first harvest the second year it was
planted in the field). Currently, we only have H1 growing on our farm La Huella,
but after the fantastic results this year we will absolutely be looking to plant more of
it. This variety has already garnered success in Cup of Excellence Nicaragua
(earning a producer 2nd place in 2017). Following the success we have had with
this variety we have decided to plant more of it on our farms Limoncillo and La
Cold Anaerobic Process
Anaerobic fermentation simply means fermentation without the presence of oxygen.
We placed optimally ripe and freshly picked cherries into juice barrels (due to their
food safe interior) and covered with a lid. It’s important to note that we made sure
that the lid would seal the barrel air tight so as to prevent any oxygen from escaping.
We attached an airlock whose purpose is to let out any carbon dioxide that will be
produced by the cherries during fermentation.
Next, we placed the barrels inside a 6m X 9m X 3m cold room we built inside our
warehouse. It is run by two industrial AC’s which keep the room between six and
ten degrees Celsius. We let the cherries ferment for a period of 48 hours.
After spending 48 hours inside the cold room, the cherries are spread out in a thin
layer on our patio under 100% sunlight where they will spend the first 4 days. Due
to the initial fermentation stage, our goal by leaving the cherries under sunlight for the first few days is to slow down the rate of fermentation to prevent over-fermentation or mold growth. The cherries are moved 3 to 4 times a day, always making sure not to damage the cherries. After spending 4 days on our patio they
were transferred onto African beds inside a greenhouse. The cherries continue
drying under 50% shade for 12 days and then moved to 75% shade for an
additional 16 days. Total drying time was 32 days for this lot, and we stopped
drying when they reached a humidity level lower than 12%.
Once the cherries reached our desired humidity, they were transported inside of our
well ventilated warehouse where they were allowed to “rest,” or age, for a month
as dried cherries. This allows for the humidity level to homogenize within all the
beans. We then proceeded to hull the dried cherries, and then allow the “oro” or
green beans to rest/age for another month. This second resting period allows for
the flavors to balance out. After two months of resting the beans are ready for
In the anaerobic fermentation we are encouraging the growth of microbes that do
not require oxygen to carry out their metabolic process by creating an atmosphere
without oxygen and controlling the temperature. Some of these microbes include
lactic acid and yeasts, such as saccharomyces cerevisiae (used to ferment beer and
wine). Lactic acid will help in increasing the acidity of the coffee.(1) Since the cup increased in acidity, we can expect there to have been a significant amount of lactic acid produced during the fermentation. The coffee bean is a living organism, and the substance spectrum found in a living organism is determined by their metabolism.(2) Our goal was to slow down the metabolism of the coffee bean by allowing it to ferment at cold temperatures. However, we do not want to stop it entirely. If the rate of fermentation is too slow this could lead to the development of butyric acid. (3) We want to avoid butyric acid fermentation, as these types of acids produce unpleasant flavors and odors. We are aiming for alcoholic or lactic acid fermentation. This slower rate of the metabolic process will lower the risk of over-fermentation, allow us to prolong the length of time of fermentation, and produce a cleaner cup profile with increased acidity.
Finca La Huella
La Huella is a relatively new farm; it was purchased in 2014. Nonetheless, it is
producing some of our best coffees. It is located inside the Arenal Nature Reserve
which places restrictions on deforestation and water contamination. Something
unique about the micro-climate of this farm is that it will be covered in fog for
around 60% of the day. This means we do not use many shade trees on La Huella,
because the farm auto-shades itself with the fog. The Yellow Pacamara variety,
which requires more sunlight than other varieties like Gesha, thrives on this farm
due to the limited number of shade trees. Other varieties grown on this farm are
Yellow Pacamara, Yellow Pacas, Red Pacamara, Javanica, Orange Bourbon, Red
Catuai, Pink Bourbon (just recently), Obata (just recently), and SL-28 (just recently).
(1) L. Solis; Fundamental Processing Techniques Presentation, 06/2018
(2) D. Selmar, M. Kleinwachter, G. Bytof; Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations: Metabolic Responses of Coffee Beans
During Processing and Their Impact on Coffee Flavor, pg. 434
(3) Carlos and Maria Fernanda, Brando; Cocoa and Coffee Fermentations: Methods of Coffee Fermentation and
Drying, pg 379