Coffee Analysis: Organic Guatemala Huehuetenango San Pedro Necta / by Dan Loughrey

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San Pedro Necta is a small and hilly town located on the side of the El Tapon mountain in Huehuetenango, Guatemala. Agriculture on this side of the mountain is almost entirely organically certified in order to differentiate from lots produced on the bigger estates to the west. Production here goes beyond just an organic certification though, and is planned to adapt to the unique climate of the area. Since the main rainy season comes in September through December, there's a delay in the cherry maturation process. These longer periods of stress on the plants are combated by, protecting the trees with shade and promoting soil biodiversity. Heavy mulching with compost and manure helps build a more resilient, long-term style of organic agriculture.

The AsociaciĆ³n de Desarrollo Integral de San Pedro Necta, or ASODESI, was founded in 1991 and has 138 members. The coop has a combined 250 hectares under production across all of its members, all of which are certified organic. ASODESI provides a number of resources to its producers, from medical assistance to market and agriculture education.

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This is a washed coffee blend of Bourbon, Caturra, and Pache. Bourbon is one of the most famous coffee varietals currently in production, and was originally brought to Bourbon Island from Yemen by Dutch missionaries in the early 1700's. Coffee didn't leave the island until the mid-1800's, when the missionaries traveled further. Caturra and Pache are both mutations of the Bourbon varietal; both were introduced in Guatemala in the late 1940's. Both Caturra and Pache are smaller trees relative to the larger Bourbon plants, but produce good quality coffee and large bean sizes. Of the three varietals in production here, only the Caturra is particularly nutrient intensive; this is addressed by the long-term fertilizing and soil care measures put in place by the producers.

This lot was grown at an altitude of 1,400-1,850 meters above sea level, and falls right in line with the average stats of a good, washed Central American coffee. Moisture content sits at a perfectly average 10.4%, and the density of the bean is a little on the higher end at 0.68 g/mL. Screen size is largely between 16-18, with very few outliers. 

We wanted to see how this coffee performed with a more aggressive browning phase as opposed to a more traditional, smooth approach. The two profiles below were done on our IKAWA sample roaster, and ended up with two pretty distinct results on the cupping table.

The first roast was the more aggressive of the two. We shortened the drying phase of the coffee a bit, and tried to push it into the browning stage. The built-up energy from this approach pushed us into first crack a bit earlier than we had originally hoped.

We played the second roast more conservatively and evened out the pre-crack approach quite a bit more. The overall roast was shorter overall, but had a higher first-crack temperature and a more balanced approach.

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Given the behavior of the two roasts, we were excited to see how they performed on the cupping table.

The first roast was defined by a strong citrus note and a hint of underdevelopment, almost certainly from the rush into the browning phase and first crack. Though not unpleasant, the overall cup was tart, with notes of tropical fruits and a high acidity.

The second roast was considerably more balanced. There were strong, sweet fruit notes present throughout, with pronounced flavors of pear, plum, and cane sugar. This was the preferred roast of the two by just about every member of our team, and is our recommendation for this coffee.

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The coffee used in this analysis is 37968 and is currently available to ship out of New Jersey. Reference number 39844 will be available in Jacksonville soon.