||#SSSSS No 01 – Guatemala Finca La Soledad Washed 150 Hour Cold Fermented Caturra 2020
||#SSSSS Limited Editions 2020
Number 1 of 12, January 2020, in the #SSSSS 2020 - Steve's Super Secret Stash Subscription. A limited availability series of roasted coffee beans.
This month it's: Guatemala Finca La Soledad Washed 150 Hour Cold Fermented Caturra 2020
Hello and welcome friends (old and new) to Steve’s Super Secret Stash Subscription 2020!
We're back for another year and I’m so happy you’ve decided to join us to taste twelve delicious and special coffees which you won’t find anywhere else : )
For those of you new to #SSSSS, here’s how it goes. Each month, I’ll email you to let you know your coffee is on the way - expect it on or before the 1st of each month. This first bag is a strange one and is arriving almost mid-month due to it being the first of the year, expect it in the next day or two.
All #SSSSS coffees are sent out Royal Mail First Class in the UK and Royal Mail International Standard for all you international subscribers. If your coffee doesn't turn up or you need to change your address or anything like that, please drop us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will swoop in and fix things in a flash.
If you want to tell me how tasty the coffee is you can find me on social media - I love to see tweets, Instagram photos & Facebook posts of you enjoying the coffee (and please use the #SSSSS tag to help me find them)!
This year we’re starting with a coffee from Guatemala. It’s somewhere you may have seen in the news recently as a big source of migrants to the United States - many of whom have worked in coffee and blame the falling C price as a big factor in their decision.
Raul Perez. Finca La Soledad, Acatenango, Guatemala
In 2010, the Commodity (or C price) for coffee hit highs of over $3.00/lb. This is the price which a lb of generic coffee was considered worth by the stock exchange traders, but it was unusually high and we saw that plummet (and continue a steady decline) until today it’s at $1.22/lb. There are rising costs for producers too, which means that price just isn’t sustainable for many coffee farmers and their workers.
Thankfully, this week’s coffee is from someone who saw this problem coming and has been plotting a different route in that last decade. Raul Perez went to university in Guatemala City, but a little over ten years ago moved back to his family’s coffee business in Acetenango. The family were visited by a coffee buyer who was interested in specialty coffee, where quality was of prime importance, and they decided to take chance on it.
Finca La Soledad, Acatenango, Guatemala
Together, Raul, his father Henio and the rest of their family have worked hard to improve the quality of their coffee and have been rewarded for that. The prices they attract are well above that C price and they have kept working to improve what they’re doing, experimenting and investing. They recognize the need to look after their workers – for my Coffeeography book, I asked Raul what he would do with a blank cheque and the first thing he wanted was to improve the housing for the workers.
He’s also experimental, and this lot is a great example of that. It’s a little teaser for what’s to come – one of three lots from the farm we’ll have this year. The other two are going on sale later this month, but I thought I’d give you all the first look. All three lots are Caturra and are Washed processed – the difference is in the temperature and time.
La Soledad Experimental Processing Bag Text
As you can see in the photo, this lot is a one-off experiment he’s done just for us. After picking, the cherries went into a steel tank with cold water. Although it’s a smaller scale than the other two lots we have, this is pretty similar with all three. The difference, which is very unusual, is that Raul controls the temperature whilst the coffee is fermenting. He found that by keeping it cooler he could allow the coffees to ferment for longer without any bad flavours developing. This lead to the two coffees which you’ll see on the website – a 67-hour ferment and a 90-hour ferment.
And this one? Well, it’s even colder than the 90-hour ferment and went for a mammoth 150 hours! That’s nearly a week and a lot longer than I’ve come across before!
Finca La Soledad, Acatenango, Guatemala
Now we come to the taste and I think this absoluetley lives up to what Raul wanted. It’s super sweet – think pineapple cubes from the sweet shop with a shoulder of raspberry and a delicate caramel in there too. It’s also super clean and elegant – it couldn’t be more classy if it was wearing a dinner jacket. To all that, add some silky and sweet cream and an aftertaste of orange and you’ve got a great, complex and refined coffee.
Farm: La Soledad
Farmer: Raul Perez and family
Altitude: 1,500 m.a.s.l.
Processing system: Washed
Fermentation method: 150-hour cold
"Quick Look" Guide:
Caramel, pineapple cubes, cream, raspberry
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