For the third year running we’re proud to share with you an incredible microlot from Finca El Mirador: Los Altares. Back in February last year we were taken to the López brothers’ farm, and saw the new drying patios and shaded raised beds that had been installed in late 2015. When we arrived it was dusk; whilst the fireflies were pretty we couldn’t get a good look at the new facilities, and all the coffee still drying had been heaped up and covered over for the night. We did however however get to cup some great coffees produced by the brothers. The Los Altares selection comes from the highest altitude section of their farm and is comprised of ripe cherry from just one day’s picking. After being dry fermented and washed it is then soaked for 24 hours under clean water before being dried on raised beds.
This year on our return to Huehuetenango we had just landed on the runway in our tiny Beechcraft plane, and were greeted by José in his truck who’d come to pick us up. On the drive to Finca El Mirador we stopped into his small café which is kitted out with a small coffee roaster. He wasn’t very happy with their roast profiles, and so we turned a couple of batches together over a beer to see if we could get something better out of his beautiful little roaster. Once content with some new profiles we continued the journey to the farm, arriving in daylight this time! José was very excited to show off his new experiments, trialling red and white honey processing, as well as drying cascara on raised beds, but our eyes were drawn to the pristine white parchment shining out amongst the more muted lots of parchment on either side. This was the soaked preparation that the Los Altares selection undergoes, making for an incredibly clean and concentrated cup.
As well as running the cherry through clean pulping equipment the brothers run a criba to separate out smaller screen sizes. After the high quality, larger screen sized coffee has dry fermented to break down the sugars using native yeasts and bacteria, it is passed down what can most easily be described as a miniature staircase that acts like a washboard. The friction against the tiny steps when the fermented coffee passes down the channel means that more residual mucilage is removed. In case there is anything else still clinging to the parchment the extra soaking stage helps to break these down via 24 hours of anaerobic fermentation.
The pleasure taken in returning to farms after a year has passed, seeing the progression in technique and application by people like the López brothers, resulting in even better coffee than the year before, is incredible. This is easily the best Los Altares has ever tasted and it is our honour to be the ones roasting it. Enjoy!
Vibrant, juicy and concentrated. Expect flavours of pomegranates, black grape and cooked blueberries in a wonderfully sweet and complex cup.