We are excited to introduce the next installment in our Estudo* series. This is where we take a micro-lot from our farm and try an experimental process to try to learn a little more about flavor development. If you have missed our previous studies in the last years, they went as follows. *study in Portuguese
Estudo #1 was the yellow Catucai picked at peak ripeness, piled and fermented with beer yeast under extreme heat that peaked at 130F, which yielded wild flavors of pineapple, cedar, thyme, cooked fruit and brown sugar, flavors we had never had in our coffees. This showed us how much fermentation can alter the flavors of our coffees.
Estudo #2 was the same variety, yellow Catucai, that we picked at peak ripeness, depulped, then added to a trailer of water with yeast and a special type of bacteria called malolactic bacteria. This yielded clean fruit notes of strawberry and kiwi as well as a unique creamy mouthfeel and sweetness, that reminded us of strawberry Lifesavers, when it all came together. This taught us what that special bacteria can do to the cup, which we believe leads us to that unique creamy mouthfeel. The reason we think that is because unlike normal lacto bacteria, malolactic bacteria has a special energy source, instead of feeding on sugar like lacto, it feeds on malic acid. For those unfamiliar with malic acid, it is the acidity most present in green apples, it is usually tart and can create dryness in the cup and is present in almost all coffees. By adding the malolactic bacteria, you essentially remove a good amount of the malic acid and replace it with lactic acid. Lactic acid, as you may be able to tell by the name is commonly found in dairy products such as yogurt and cheese, it can be tart, as you can taste in a Greek yogurt but also has a certain creaminess to it. They commonly use lactic acid in candies such as lifesavers to help with that creamy mouthfeel and acidity. Long story short, we loved the flavor profile this coffee produced but we felt that maybe through some refinement we could improve its intensity.
Estudo #3 was a refinement of Estudo #2, we used the same variety and process but this year we added a few new variables. The first one we added was a specific set of nutrients specifically for the yeast and malolactic bacteria we were using. This gives those microbes exactly what they need to thrive and multiply, allowing them to focus on ester and phenol production, which are the building blocks of the exciting flavors we love in coffee. We also extended the fermentation time from 72 hours to 90 hours. We realized that our harvest season being so cool allows us to push fermentations farm past the commonly used time frames, again allowing the microbes to produce more flavor compounds. With these two things changed we tried to keep everything else the same to properly observe the effects of those variables. The major things we noticed is the aromatics of this coffee are far more present this year, with dry aromas of dried fruits and fresh berries being apparent right off grind, uncommon aromatics for the average washed coffee, we were intrigued. Once water is added, these notes are amplified and different layers of citrus and tropical fruits like guava make a showing. Again, very interesting for a washed coffee. In tasting the coffee, we were met with big flavors of sweet orange and dried cherry and a candied like sweetness.
As we taste this coffee more and more, it cements in our minds how important controlled fermentation is to producing coffee flavors, and how much yeast and bacteria can really do to alter the cup in amazing ways. Every year we learn something new about flavor and fermentation, which furthers our excitement for the future of coffee producing. We are happy to have been able to share this journey through these experiments.
This coffee comes from our Campo 2 lot, which also produced the coffee for our Peixoto Honey this year. It is at the highest altitude on our farm at 1250m and is fully Yellow Catucai, which is Catuai back traced with Icatu, giving it excellent disease resistance, high yields, and a great flavor profile. The trees on this lot are in their prime years, at about 10 feet tall and at their peak in quality, as well as yield. They are partially shaded by nearby eucalyptus, which combined with the higher altitude, create long maturation times, which help produce highly sweet and uniform cherries.
Farmer: José Augusto Peixoto
Farm: Fazenda São José da Boa Vista
Region: Sul de Minas
Altitude: 1250 MSL
Varietal: Yellow Catucai
Taste: Tangerine, guava, dried strawberry, almond, cherry, cola, creamy
Aromatics: Raisin, almond, dried cherry, strawberry, milk chocolate
Recommended Brewing Methods:
C70 & V60
Pair this coffee with:
- An almond croissant
- Vanilla sweet cream
- A crisp spring morning