MARIA EUGENIA ESCOBAR, Anoxic Natural
Our second release from this season’s offerings from La Senda is a rich and complex extended fermentation natural. We taste their typical stone fruit profile with tropical fruits with a delicate florality.
PREPARATION: Natural, Anoxic Fermentation
LOCATION: Finca la Senda, Acatenango, Chimaltenango
ALTITUDE: 1,650 masl
PRICE PAID: £14.50/kg
Finca La Senda, now run by Arnoldo Pérez Melendez and his wife Maria Eugenia Escobar, dates back to the 1940’s, when Arnoldo’s father pioneered the plantation of coffee in the surroundings of the Aldea El Socorro in Acatenango. The Finca extends from the borders of the village up to mount Balàm, the hill of the Jaguar in the native language. Coffee is planted at an altitude between 1,550 and 1,970 masl across an area spanning around 27 hectares. Above these altitudes nature is left to take its own course, respecting the unique biosphere.
Until 2017, Arnoldo had been delivering coffee to the local cooperative but after meeting a specialty coffee consultant has realised the potential of the finca’s cherries and has shifted his focus to producing specialty micro-lots. Work on building processing facilities (beneficio) began in April 2017 and were completed over the course of six months, just in time for the 2018 harvest.
Arnoldo took advantage of his deep knowledge of agriculture, while Maria Eugenia leveraged her skills as a talented cook to learn and refine best practices in coffee fermentation and processing. In its first year of processing, Finca la Senda focused its efforts on consistent cherry selection, long and controlled fermentations as well as slow shade-drying.
La Senda have developed a strict harvesting protocol which they use for all of their lots. Ripe cherries are harvested once they reach an average of 24 degrees brix - a measurement of the sugar content of the fruit. The coffee is transported to the mill in clean boxes to protect the fruit from damage and then washed in a tank of water, allowing the less dense cherries to be easily removed as they float on the surface. Under-ripe, over-ripe and defective fruits are then removed by hand and the remaining cherries are left to rest for 24 hours before processing.
For this lot, the coffee is first fermented in a CO2 reactor for 72 hours with controlled temperature and pH and then dried on raised African beds under direct sunlight for 20 hours. After the initial drying, the cherries are kept under shade for 20-25 days, manually turned every two hours to promote even drying and are covered every night to protect them from re-wetting. Once the humidity has reached 10.5%, they are packed into GrainPro bags and left to rest for 2 months before heading to the dry mill in Guatemala City where they are hulled and prepared for export.