When was the last time you were doing a little cooking and, right at the very end, you realized that you did something horribly wrong? Instead of throwing out the batch, though, you think to yourself, “well, I’ll add a little of this and cook it a little longer and we’ll see what happens!” The result? A marvelous new recipe that no one had tried before! This fictional story of your culinary prowess is a different version of what Nelson Raul Amador from De La Finca Coffee Importers shared with me about our newest single origin offering – Las Lomas, from the San Marcos region in Guatemala.
Several years back German and Jose Aguirre and their team were processing some coffee and accidentally processed some of it anaerobically. This means that as they were fermenting the coffee (something that occurs in many processing methods) they deprived it of oxygen. While this method of processing has become quite popular recently, at the time it was much less common and much less well-known. The result? A slightly over fermented coffee that was too sharply sour and fruity, lacking the body to stand on its own.
However, rather than throwing away the accidentally experimental coffee, Raul and the Aguirres decided to mix a small sample together with a washed process coffee that the Las Lomas farm had also produced. The result could not have been more different. They stumbled upon a wonderfully complex, high quality coffee that maintained the deep chocolatey body common in standard washed Guatemalan coffees, as well as some unique fruit-forward flavor notes that reminded them of pineapple, mango and other tropical fruits. This was the first iteration of Las Lomas as we know it today.
Ever since that happy accident, Raul and the team at De La Finca have been working with German and Jose to curate that same coffee year over year*. Now they are sourcing over 3X as much as they purchased that first year and we’ve been able to get a few bags here at Firelight.
*A quick side note on how they anaerobically process a portion of the coffee: The coffee cherries are harvested when ripe, depulped (the fruit is mostly taken off the bean) and then placed in thick plastic bags for 12 hours to stabilize the coffee beans. After this they are transferred to barrels where they are sealed from any exposure to oxygen and left to ferment for about 24 hours. After this they are removed, fully washed and dried to stop the fermentation process and let the coffees reach their optimum moisture content before bagging for shipment.