The Western Ghats mountain range, also known as the Sahyadri mountain range, possesses a uniquely warm tropical climate, which is ideal for cultivating the Kents, S.795, Catimor and Selection 9 variety beans.
These farms do not work in a specific cooperative since they work on just over 130 hectares of land, but rather, they work as an estate at an altitude of 900 - 1,300 masl. The mountain range acts as a barrier which intercepts the rain-laden monsoon winds that sweep across from the South West, hence the harvesting taking place from November to February.
The beans are classified according to a thorough system of grading. The processing is usually carried out so the beans do not go through the fermentation stage to remove mucilage. Instead, the cherry is picked, pulped and sorted immediately, with the beans undergoing electronic and manual colour sorting in order to separate the grades.
Coffee beans are piled in 4 to 6 inches and exposed to the monsoon winds. In order to equalise the moisture absorption, a process is carried out where the beans are raked, bulked and re-bagged at regular intervals. This usually takes 12-16 weeks and the beans will absorb the moisture in stages, causing them to expand to nearly twice their original size whilst developing colours ranging from pale gold to a light brown. The bulking and re-bagging stages are repeated as the coffee is sent to a drying facility to go into storage.
Due to the warm tropical climate and the monsoon winds, these gold beans, upon being ground, release an incredible biscuit flavour with a hint of chocolate. The delicate mouthfeel, once submerged into hot water, is crisp and clean to the palate, and possesses black tea qualities as well as tangy lemon zest. As the coffee blossoms and cools, hints of herbs become apparent alongside intense flavours of velvet dark chocolate.
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The rich volcanic clay soil found along the high-altitude hills of the Congo Nile Trail in Nyamyumba provides the perfect amount of nutrients to grow this Rwandan coffee.
The land around Nyamyumba consists of lush green hills and clear waters around Lake Kivu, and is also part of the Gishwati National Forest.
The farm sizes vary, with 400 trees on average at an altitude of 1-500 to 2,000 masl, and more than 1,400 growers who deliver to the Nyamyumba washing station. The station was built in 2006 and processes up to 496 tons of cherry annually.
Members handpick the cherries and pass them on to be hand sorted by floating them in water in order to remove any visible defects or low-density beans. The farmers can only pick cherries which are entirely ripe, as the washing station will reject those that are damaged or underripe. This ensures the farmers take extra care with picking. The cherries are floated again to remove those with insects. They are then wet fermented for 24 hours, which will serve to remove any remaining mucilage. This fermentation is the final step before grading. The beans then travel through canals and are washed and separated into three levels of density (A1, A2 and A3) before being soaked for 20 hours in fresh water to increase quality and shelf life.
The level of care taken in producing this high-quality coffee is demonstrated by the quality of the beans. These beans emit a sweet, fruity fragrance upon being ground and contain notes of black tea, jam and smooth caramel flavours.
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El Salvador Monte Sion
The mountain range of the Cerro Cachio region in El Salvador is located on the Cordillera de Apaneca and consists mostly of volcanoes where the farms are abundant in rich volcanic soil.
The farm was established in 1907 by the Urrutia family; after three generations the very same family owns and runs the farm today. The farm has an average size of 35.70 hectares, with an altitude ranging between 1,250 to 1,400 masl. It is currently moving away from a Rainforest Alliance certification and growing into an Organic certification, where they will continue to achieve an environmentally friendly ethic.
Only the ripest cherries are handpicked and collected; all over or under ripe cherries are separated and the coffee is processed on the same day at the mill. This prevents any fermentation that could damage the cup quality. The beans are washed and passed through a conveyor where they are graded in order to remove any defect beans. Once the coffee is graded, it is then sun dried on patios which are spread out in thin layers and turned constantly to obtain drying consistency across the bean.The coffee is dried separately, ensuring its humidity does not fall below 20 degrees.
The higher altitude results in the coffee bean maturing slower, producing a sweeter, more flavoursome coffee filled with flavours of juicy and full-bodied wine, soft sweet peach acidity and candy-like hints at the back of the palate.
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