Episode 533: Guatemala Finca La Soledad Amaton 67 Hour Cold Fermentation Washed Catuai

Raul Perez has grown up around coffee, he comes from a fifth generation coffee farming family on his father's side, and a third generation family on his mother's side. Coffee has always been part of his life.

Finca La Soledad has been a Pérez family coffee farm since 1895. The farm is located in Acatenango, near to the Acatenango volcano. It has a great microclimate at an altitude of 1,650 metres above sea level.

The Pérez family have invested heavily in their mill, rebuilding it with the environment in mind. They have a clever system through which they are able to recycle the water they use for processing many times. Raul and his dad Henio work together on the farm to raise quality standards every day, they have built a cupping and roasting lab on the farm and Raul has been roasting and cupping samples of days' pickings so they can learn at farm level what they can do to improve the cup.

All our lots from La Soledad this year are Dry Fermented Washed coffees - this means that after the cherries have been picked and depulped they are stored in tanks where fermentation by yeast and lactic acid bacteria breaks down the fruit mucilage, so that it falls away from the bean in the centre. This fermentation process isn’t just a practical way of getting to the coffee beans though - it also plays a key part in developing the flavours that make a great coffee something special. It’s a super interesting (and complex!) part of the beans journey from the plant to us and and one which the Perez family are exploring and experimenting with in ways we haven’t seen anywhere else in coffee.

This is Amaton - one of two Catuai microlots (the other is Bella Vistina) we have from the Finca La Soledad this year, each with a subtly different fermentation process, but otherwise very similar.

This lot, called Amaton, has been fermented for 67 hours. Now the typical time for a Dry Fermentation would be 35-40 hours at 20°C to 26°C - so that’s about 30 hours longer than a typical dry fermentation on the farm! If a lot ferments for too long, it usually develops unpleasant flavours (this one doesn’t, it’s super tasty!) - that’s possible because the team at La Soledad have got a clever trick to control the temperature. By running copper pipes around the tank, which carry cold water, they can cool the fermenting beans down. This slows down the rate of fermentation but also changes the kind of flavour compounds the yeast and bacteria produce, allowing it to progress further without developing unpleasant flavours.

That’s all a bit clever, but what matters is how it tastes, right? Well, it really delivers on the sweet and clean flavours from that long slow fermentation.

In the cup expect a milk chocolate coated Malted Milk (moo cow) biscuit! That yummy mix of biscuit sweetness and lingering chocolate flavour is joined by a hint of peach in what is wonderfully balanced and chuggable coffee.

  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: Acatenango
  • Producers: Raul Pérez & Family
  • Farm: Finca La Soledad
  • Altitude: 1,650 m.a.s.l.
  • Varietals grown: Caturra, Catuai, Bourbon, Typica & Pache
  • Fermentation method: Cold
  • Fermentation time: 67 hours
  • Processing method: Washed

Cupping notes: Milk chocolate, Malted Milk biscuit, peach.

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

  • Total: (max. 100): 87

Roast Information: Medium dark - straight through first crack and slow it down a little before dropping just as you reach second.

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