ICON 04, Typica Mejorado 48hr Natural
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April's ICON coffee is a mind-blowing nano-lot of an interesting variety from an innovative producer in Ecuador. Another exquisite coffee packed with flavours of wild strawberry and mango with elegant floral notes of rose and violet.
PRODUCER: Alfonso Villagomez
CULTIVAR: Typica Mejorado
LOCATION: Hacienda San Agustin, Tulipe, Pichincha, Ecuador
ALTITUDE: 1,600 - 1,700 masl
Ecuador is a country better known for its cacao and flower production than coffee, and is often overshadowed by its neighbours Colombia and Peru. However, they are producing some incredibly exotic and highly sought after coffees, due in part to the high altitudes and the range of traditional and improved varieties found here. The best quality coffees from here command really high prices due to the high labour costs involved, low yields and high cost of production.
Alfonso Villagomez is a Q-grader and former environmental consultant who is incredibly methodical in his approach to producing coffee. His hacienda, San Agustin is located only a few hundred miles from the ruins of Tulipe. Although the farm has belonged to his family for three generations, they only started producing coffee as recently as 2014. They grow both Typica Mejorado and Caturra and their typical cup profiles are very sweet, fruity and have really interesting acidity. Alfonso has a keen eye for detail and he has been experimenting with extended fermentations and carbonic maceration. He is also one of the few producers in the area who can offer a natural processed coffee as the region is very humid and has abundant annual rainfall. His solution is drying the cherries in a solar-powered drying chamber, where the heat and humidity can be precisely controlled.
This nano-lot is comprised of Typica Mejorado, a variety not grown widely outside of Ecuador with an interesting lineage. Nestlé used to operate a coffee breeding research department in the Pichincha region of Ecuador. It was here that they developed hybrids using a selection of Ethiopian heirloom trees. After several generations they released a variety which became known as 'Typica Mejorado'. Thanks to genetic testing by World Coffee Research, we now know that despite the name it is actually a Bourbon variety cross-pollinated with an unknown Ethiopian landrace. This is a comparatively low yielding variety but it more than makes up for that in the quality of its cup profile.
The coffee for this lot was picked by hand, selecting only the ripest cherries. After harvest, the whole cherries were then left to ferment without water for 48 hours inside a fermentation tank. The coffee was then dried for 15 days inside Alfonso’s solar drying chamber before being transferred to raised African beds inside poly-tunnels for the final stage of drying.
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