This is a traditional washed coffee from the Cobán region of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, produced by Luis “Wicho” Valdés on his farm, Finca Santa Isabel.
The flavor profile offers hints of sweet fruits like soft lemon and a nostalgic reminder of apple butter, underpinned by a deep fudgy body and the sweetness of sugar browning.
Grower - Luis “Wicho” Valdés | Finca Santa Isabel
Cultivar - Bourbon, catuaí, caturra, obata, and sarchimor
Region - San Cristobal, Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala
Harvest - November 2021 - April 2022
Elevation - 1400 - 1500 masl
Process - Traditional washed after pulping, and fermenting. Dried on raised beds, in greenhouses, and in mechanical dryers
Lemon, Fudge, Apple butter and Brown sugar
We roasted this batch of Guatemala to a medium roast. Depending on the grind and brewing method, this Guatemala San Cristobal Crown Jewel can produce hints of ripe Meyer Lemons and guava to deeper tones of fudge, milk chocolate, brown sugar.
As with most Top-Shelf coffees, we suggest using the pour-over method to maximized the aroma and flavor of this Crown Jewel coffee using a 1:16 coffee to water ratio with the water between 200F and 205F. Once grounds are placed in the filter, pre-soak grounds by covering with water for ~30sec to allow for blooming, then finish with either a steady pour or a couple of short pours to complete the brewing process.
By Chris Kornman, Royal Coffee
A refreshingly easygoing coffee that belies a subtle harmony of flavors, this sweet, clean offering from Wicho Valdés in Guatemala is an excellent example of overlooked qualities from uncommon origins.
On the cupping table, sample roasts showed off initial hints of ripe Meyer Lemons and guava, while production roast trials offered deeper tones of fudge, milk chocolate, brown sugar, and even delightful hints of cayenne pepper. We noted a sweet nuttiness that played well with a nostalgic apple butter note we loved, and have already roasted our first batch to serve as a cold brew at The Crown.
Producer / Source Background
By Charlie Habegger, Royal Coffee
Finca Santa Isabel is a 70-hectare estate in just outside the town of San Cristóbal Verapaz, down the highway from the region’s namesake city of Cobán. Luis Valdés, affectionately called “Wicho” to distinguish him from his father and grandfather who are also named Luis, has been running Santa Isabel, and the family’s adjacent farm San Lorenzo, since 1999. Wicho started following his father around the estate when he was young and later earned an agricultural engineering degree before taking the reins. Constant humidity and precipitation year-round in this area creates some extremely complex challenges for processing and drying in particular. So much so that coffee from Cobán is often stereotyped as being heavy in the cup and dull, or earthy.
Wicho, however, has used his life-long experience and education to overcome this obstacle. The entire estate is terraced to protect against erosion during the heavy summer rains. Wicho has also created several different drying strategies (raised beds, greenhouses, and mechanical dryers) to cope with the unpredictability of winter rains during the harvest. Each dried outturn of coffee is conditioned and then cupped and grouped into individual profiles; the “floral” profile is created with individual day lots that Wicho and his partners believe express the most complex and effusive aromatics of the harvest.
Dried parchment is taken from the estate to a dry mill in Guatemala City. San Isabel is equipped with multiple pieces of equipment to sort green coffee typical in most dry mills, such as, gravity beds, screens and electronic eyes. The mill also has a piece of equipment called a catadora, which is placed immediately after the dehuller and operates like a wind channel to remove broken and less dense coffee beans. Mild weather in Guatemala City provides ideal conditions for storing parchment in the warehouse until it is time to export.
In the past 10 years Wicho’s coffee has become some of the most sought-after in Guatemala. He is a kind, studious, experienced, and determined coffee producer capable of managing great complexity. A normal day during harvest includes calibrating 500 pickers on each variety in the field, daily processing, multiple simultaneous drying scenarios, over 200 hectares of coffee and forest management to keep thriving, experimental variety plots to plan, and a constantly threatening climate to monitor hour by hour. It takes quite a producer to get all the variables just right.
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