Here at Hasbean, we're always on the lookout for tasty and delicious decaf. It can sometimes be a little tricky to get our hands on, but we aim to always have at least 1 decaffeinated coffee available at all times.
As crops come and go during the year, our decaf offering changes and rolls with the seasons - right now it is a washed Caturra from Finca La Chorrera in Colombia that has been decaffeinated using sugar cane.
Finca La Chorrera is located near to the city of Pitalito, in the south of the Huila department. It's in the valley of the Rio Grande de la Magdalena, known as 'The Valley of Laboyos', which is 180 KM away from Nieva, the capital of Huila. Pitalito is also the second-largest city of the department of Huila, at approximately 125,000 inhabitants, and is considered one of the largest areas of coffee production in Colombia.
This farm is located on top of a mountain at 1,735 metres above sea level. It contains 70% Caturra (25,000 plants; this lot comes from them), 20% Colombia F6 (7,000 plants) and 10% Castillo (2,000 plants). The farm consists of eight hectares, six of which are planted with coffee. The other two hectares house the mill and inaccessible mountainous areas. The family house, which is also used for drying, is at the bottom of the hill at around 1,400 metres above sea level.
I took some (I think!) amazing pictures on my trip in 2013, so take a lookhere, and I took some more on my trip in 2014 – find themhere!
The farm is owned and run by the Claros family: Pedro, his wife Nelcy and their six children (Alberio, Edilson, Sandra, Hermes, Diana and Monica). It's a real family business with everyone pitching into the farm to make it work.
The farm's drying patio is one of the most amazing things I’ve seen. It's a greenhouse built on top of the house so that the coffee can be turned regularly, but also to make sure no one steals it. The latter was not so much of a problem last year with market prices being low, but it was a real problem over the previous three years. Of course, Pedro doesn't have to worry about market prices; he always gets a premium because he consistently gives quality, but black market coffee goes to the highest market bidder.
This coffee has been decaffeinated via the sugar cane (SC) method, just like our other Colombian decafs of recent years. It’s a method from Colombia and the decaffeination is (as with our other Colombian decafs) done at a plant in Colombia where they use a sugar cane byproduct for the process. More details can be found here. We're big fans of this method for a number of reasons, but one of the most important reasons for me is that it keeps the whole process in Colombia. There's no shipping the coffee back and forth around the world to get it decaffeinated; it all happens at origin and then floats softly over to me in Stafford 😊
Over the last few years, we’ve bought a couple of large lots from co-operatives in Colombia for decaffeinating. The minimum run size for the process is 4,200 KG of green coffee (which would be about 3,400 KG after roasting). We’ve been really impressed by the quality of flavour you get from this process in comparison to the Swiss Water and CO2 methods. By taking control of the lots we want to be processed, we’ve been able to choose coffees that tasted good to begin with rather than being stuck with someone else’s selection. The downside is that we’ve not been building on relationships with farmers because we had to look for big lots.
A couple of years ago we decided to begin doing something different. We have a long-standing relationship with Pedro and, as I said earlier, we've been buying from him for many years; every year we cup each lot of pickings from the farm and feed information back to him as a score. The better the picked coffee tastes, the higher the premium he gets for it.
In 2017 La Chorrera reached a point at which it was producing a good volume of coffee and the consistency was super good – enough so that the Claros family was able to build up the 4,200 KG we needed for a dedicated decaffeination run.
This starts with cherry drops up front, but moves into digestive biscuit on the finish and then leaves you with milk chocolate on the aftertaste. As it cools the cherry takes a back seat and hints of orange come through. It’s a really delicious and balanced decaf.
Roast Information Medium - through first crack and slow it down to drop it just before second begins. Because this is a decaf, it'll look darker and more oily than you'd expect for this roast level, so it's important to follow other cues when judging it.
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