In this Processing Series we have the exciting opportunity to taste coffees processed in three different ways from a single farm of outstanding quality and renown: Finca La Hermosa in Acatenango, Guatemala. Processing in coffee refers to the method of how the seeds are removed from the fruit and then subsequently dried. Broadly speaking, there are three main methods of coffee processing:
WASHED (wet process): All of the fruit is removed from the seeds before drying, producing a crisp, clean cup that highlights variety and terroir characteristics.
HONEY (semi-washed process): Part of the slimy mucilage that surrounds the seeds is allowed to remain during drying, resulting in a mellower cup with subtle raisiny or pune-like tones.
NATURAL (dry process): The coffee is dried as a whole cherry with the skin and fruit intact, resulting in overt fruity and berry-like notes in the cup.
LA HERMOSA WASHED
by Max Pérez
Tastes: Malty, chocolate, clean
Processing: Fully washed
The coffee is picked when it reaches 21 °Bx. The coffee is processed on the same day it is picked, helping to avoid uncontrolled fermentation and the resulting off-flavours. The mucilage is removed traditionally through fermentation. The wet mill at La Hermosa is designed for efficient use of water, reusing the water that transports the coffee through the mill and properly treating the water that is used for de-pulping and washing. The drying is done under sunlight. A pre-drying stage takes place on cement patios and a second stage on raised beds. The average drying time is between 10-15 days.
LA HERMOSA HONEY
by Max Pérez
Tastes: Raisin, prune, soft
Variety: Yellow Bourbon
Processing: Red Honey
This coffee is processed as a “red honey”, meaning that 75% of the mucilage is left on the seeds for drying (this is contrasted with “yellow honey”, for example, where only 50% of the mucilage remains). The coffee is picked when it reaches 21 °Bx and dried on raised beds. It receives four hours of sunlight in the morning, and is covered from midday to avoid over-drying. The average drying time is between 10-15 days.
LA HERMOSA NATURAL
by Max Pérez
Tastes: Raspberry, fruity, exotic
Variety: Yellow Bourbon
The coffee is dried as a hole fruit with the skin and fruit still on the seeds. The coffee is handpicked when it reaches 24 – 25 °Bx and is dried on raised beds. It is moved on a regular basis according to La Hermosa’s methodology, to guarantee proper ventilation and even drying. The average drying time is between 20-25 days.
About the Farm:
Born and raised amidst coffee plantations and a parchment warehouse at home, Max Pérez always had the idea of starting a coffee business himself. In 2010, the opportunity came up. The time to “make the coffee dreams come true” arrived with a lot of family effort and a clear idea in mind: develop a specialty coffee farm that would blend tradition and innovation to supply its customers with amazing coffees, while having a positive impact in the society. And so, the adventure started!
After evaluating the potential regions to land this project, Acatenango came across as “the one”. Why? Well, when you have two beautiful volcanoes towering a piece of land that has perfect altitude and mineral-rich soils, doubt immediately turns into certainty. Acatenango is definitely a blessed region, home to great farms, tasteful coffees and dedicated coffee growers who love and enjoy what they do. No wonder why it is one of the only two denominations of origin in Guatemala that have been recognized to protect outstanding coffee regions.
After acquiring the land in 2010, the project started to take shape. The team was formed and the family experience added to an innovative vision facilitated the decision on what varieties and cultivars would be planted, the type of shade trees to be used and other technical needs that had to be met. From the selection of the seeds to the planting, every detail was carefully supervised in order to guarantee the success of the project. A coffee plantation is a long-term investment, so certainty and care in every step are crucial.
The farm is divided in thirteen plots in full production, featuring traditional varieties as pache, typica, caturra, and bourbon, as well as the trendy maragogype, pacamara and geisha. Quality doesn’t come by chance, so all of La Hermosa’s coffees are carefully hand picked and processed following the best practices for the washed, natural, and honey methods.
The quality of the coffees has been rewarded with different national and international prizes in the past years, including the Cup of Excellence auction program. Of course, the job doesn’t stop here. La Hermosa keeps moving towards innovation and improvement.
The quality of La Hermosa coffees has been rewarded with different national and international prizes in the past years:
Cup of excellence: 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
Acatenango Valley Regional Prize: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
Blockchain Coffee Auction 2019: 1st place