Guatemala Los Jocotales Black Honey x Natural 2017


Bean name Guatemala Los Jocotales Black Honey x Natural 2017
Country Guatemala
Region Antigua, Guatemala
Other info Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra & Catuai


This coffee's farm is located in a region that is well known for some of the most interesting coffees, as well as some of the most renowned coffees, in Guatemala, Antigua.

It is produced by Alex Illescas, and he grows it on his grandfather's farm. His grandfather has owned the farm for just over 50 years, working the land and selling the cherry along as a commodity coffee because they have no mill with which to process their own coffee. The farm is located at 1,400 metres above sea level in Ciudad Vieja.

Alex had an idea that he wanted to produce amazing, interesting and challenging coffee for the specialty market. So, with the blessing of his grandfather and with help from his uncle, he used the farm to experiment with varietals and processing methods to see what might improve cup quality. This coffee is the result of those experiments. It's dangerous to do something like this, so the lots are small – but they're large enough that this could have caused financial hardship if something had gone wrong. The lucky thing is that, in the cup, this gamble has really paid off.

The processing method for this coffee is a hybrid of black honey processing and natural processing that we first saw on El Limon, my good friend in Guatemala Raul is also good friends with Alex so I think there might have been a little knowledge sharing going on!

When farms are processing a coffee they use a depulping machine that removes the cherry and most of the mucilage, there is a setting on this machine that adjusts how close to the bean it cleans, and therefore how much of the fruit is left behind. The farms Raul works with in Guatemala have, when doing honey processing, typically used a middle setting (red honey). However, Raul wanted to try a black honey.

In Costa Rica, where these are most often produced, this would mean leaving all the mucilage and just taking off the fruit skin. However, when they have done Black Honey in Guatemala they have opened the depulper very wide, and some of the cherries have had the skin removed whilst a few have been left intact. I guess this means it's kind of a hybrid black honey x natural process. These were then left on patios for thirteen days, which is about the same amount of time that they use to dry their washed coffees.

When I visited Alex you could see how excited he was, and you could see how proud he was about the coffee. All the time I was there I was praying the coffee would be as good as the story, and I'm pleased to report that it's even better.

In the cup I'm hit by cocoa powder, like the kind you get dusted on fancy chocolates, bitter but in a good dark chocolate kinda way. Then come the sugars...brown sugar at the start but it turns darker into muscovado sugar on the finish alongside a delicate waft of funk.

Country: Guatemala
Region: Antigua
City: Cuidad Vieja
Farm: Los Jocotales
Farmer: Alex Illescas
Altitude: 1,400 m.a.s.l.
Varietal: Bourbon, Caturra & Catuai
Processing System: Black Honey x Natural

Roasting Information
Medium Dark - anywhere from just before to just into 2nd crack.

"Quick Look" Guide
Cocoa powder, brown sugar, muscovado sugar, funk.

Cupping notes

Clean cup 6/8
Sweetness 7/8
Acidity 6/8
Mouthfeel 6/8
Flavour 7/8
Aftertaste 7/8
Balance 6/8
Overall 6/8
Correction +36
Total 87

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