This is our first year buying coffee from the Barrantes brothers. They have favourable growing conditions at their farm, which extend cherry maturation time to produce noticeable sweetness. This particular day lot is from late February, right at the centre of their harvest. What stood out on the cupping table for me in Costa Rica was the deep sweetness, gentle acidity, and balance that this coffee showed.
Drying is one of the most important steps in the coffee processing chain. It has historically served as a functional aspect of processing coffee. It’s been believed for decades that the moisture of the bean had to be dried to about 12% moisture to prevent noticeable damage in transport. We’ve learned since then that the actual end point should be much closer to 10%.
While it’s true that the farmer should dry the coffee to a certain moisture level, exactly how the farmer dries the coffee to that moisture will go a long way in determining the coffee’s shelf life. Almost every producer in the world dries coffee completely unaware that this seemingly simple step is largely responsible for determining their product’s shelf life.
At Helsar, drying has historically been done in a very standard way: one day on a concrete patio and 30 hours in a mechanical dryer called a “guardiola.”
But one of our early projects at Helsar was aimed at improving drying with the use of the guardiola. As part of the project, we conducted experiments with Ricardo to introduce resting periods for the coffee in the drying process. Our theory was that the life span of the coffee was decreased because the coffee was improperly dried, causing it to suffer from microbial activity. We first set out to test this theory in 2013, and our first step was to extend the drying time by 66%. We were thrilled by the results of these experiments, and from 2014 to 2016 we extended the drying time by another 30%.
I cupped this coffee back in March in Costa Rica (my last trip before COVID) and it has performed very well throughout the various cuppings in Costa Rica and now, in Calgary.
The green coffee was frozen immediately upon arrival to Calgary to ensure freshness.