As committed partners, we decided to support the microlot efforts of our farmers in Nicaragua and Honduras. This year, we focused on “honey milled” microlots—each less than 2,000 lbs. Both our partner farms, from Nicaragua at the Cinco de Junio Coop and from Honduras at the Capucas Coop, have recently started this process, which is a relatively new method. It is called honey milled because once you remove the red, ripe coffee cherry fruit, you are left with a very sticky and sweet coffee bean in parchment. The bean is then dried in this sticky, syrupy substance, which imparts its sweet, honey-like flavor into the bean as it dries.
I spent some time with Jose Francisco Villeda, known as “Chito”, who is the owner of “Finca El Mirador”, an organic farm in Capucas that is starting to produce several honey milled micro lots. Chito patiently demonstrated, step-by-step, the whole process involved in the honey milling method.
After the fully ripe cherries are picked, the cherries go through a manual de-pulping machine, where the coffee cherry is removed from the bean. The beans are quickly washed just enough to remove all those unwanted items like sticks that may have fallen in the coffee. Where the coffee seed and parchment are being separated from cherry.
Immediately after this, the coffee beans (still in parchment) are laid out on African drying beds and spread out evenly with a rake. Chito explained that depending on weather conditions, the usual drying cycle takes 10-17 days versus 7 days with the “wet” method. He mentioned that this method is harder as it involves more work in taking care of the beans and extra time for drying because it’s slower for the beans to dry with the parchment. Chito works harder with this method but in return he gets to sell this coffee at a much higher price. Additionally, it is better for the environment since farmers use less water than the “wet” method.
We work with these farmers on these unique microlots to allow them to see what the true quality capacity of their coffees can be. They grow exceptional coffees, but with a little extra time and attention, they can develop world-class, distinctive coffees that any discerning coffee lover would appreciate. The coffees cupped have a delicate, syrupy sweetness!
These honey-milled microlots are exceptionally smooth and have a distinctive honey sweetness that will remind you that your hot cup of coffee is actually the seed of a delicious fruit that is planted, cared for, and harvested with passion all over the globe. Both our Nicaraguan and our Honduran microlots are “on the water” in containers coming straight from origin to our warehouse. We will announce their arrival and availability as soon as they land.
|Cupping Honey-Milled Microlots||Beans in an African Drying Bed|