Notes From The Buyer: Anaerobic Maceration Honey Process

If you have been following along with these conversations about David Solano’s coffees, we are now getting out of the head in the clouds, inspirational stuff, and getting more into the realm of wild, once in a lifetime; I’ve never tried anything like this before. 

This was the coffee that put this whole project into my head. I tried this coffee and said I want it, but I didn’t want to just have it by itself. It absolutely can stand on its own, but why wouldn’t we want to do something a little more fun? So, sitting in the lab in David’s coffee shop, 12 Onzas in Guatemala City, we talked through this entire project because this coffee wowed me so much.  

Our plan for this Holiday Box Set is to share three coffees picked from the same trees at the same time and show how they taste radically different because of the processing and the fermentation. It takes inspiration from a yearly project I used to do with Hacienda Sonora many years ago, where we served the Honey Process and the Natural Process of two different varieties, but those were released on their own over time. This box is meant for you to explore David’s coffees in quick succession and see how each coffee differs even though the terrier is exactly the same.  

For this Anaerobic Maceration Honey Process, the team at Conception’ Buena Vista pick the cherries from the tree and wash them thoroughly to ensure there is no contamination on the outside of the cherry skin. Then, the cherries are placed in food-grade fermentation tanks that can hold 2500 pounds at a time. These tanks are now built into the mill building and have scaffolding for easy loading, cleaning, and maintenance. They use food-grade tanks so that they can clean as much as possible between batches. Each tank is equipped with a pressure valve, relief valve, pH meter, and temperature meter. 

In a regular Honey process, the cherries would have been depulped using a mechanical pulping machine and then laid out on a patio with the mucilage still on the coffee. With this process, David is using the airless environment, time, and a cultivated mossto brewed with pineapple yeast. 

SIDE QUEST! What in the world is MOSSTO?

Mossto is a liquid created for or during the fermentation of a fruit that aids in the degradation of the mucilage of the fruit. Winemakers use mossto as an agent during fermentation to accurately control the fermentation process by controlling all of the inputs into the system. In coffee production, mossto is used to break down the skin and pulp surrounding the coffee seed, allowing the use of those nutrients in the fermentation process. Custom-made mossto recipes are popping up across the coffee world!

SIDE QUEST COMPLETED!

David’s mossto is made in their microbiology lab on the farm. Starting with fresh pineapple, they make a puree and let it ferment, creating a healthy population of yeast. They then separate the correct amount of yeast needed for each batch and create the mossto with that yeast culture for each batch produced.

Once the mossto is added to the food-grade tank, the lid is sealed, and the tank is flushed of oxygen for 75-90 hours to allow the yeast to eat as much organic material as possible and seal into the seeds underneath. The team at Conception’ Buena Vista covers the tanks with temperature control blankets and constantly monitor the pH level as it degrades during the fermentation process. Once the coffee is depulped to a honey, it goes into the covered greenhouse patio to dry on raised beds for 10-12 days, and then it is moved to raised drying beds outside to dry directly in the sunlight for 13 days.

This is why I am the way that I am, to be honest. It is topics like this that get me really excited about the coffee industry and the focus that is going into coffee production right now. I feel this way about coffee production, natural wine, and food. Anywhere that experimentation meets scientific inquiry in a consumable product is exactly where all of my passions in life align. My mentor once said to me, “I just want to eat and drink good stuff.” And there haven’t been many more things that I have heard that speak to me on the level that one phrase did.

I hope you are following along in this journey with me while we find excellent coffees and share them with you!

About the Buyer:

Jake Deserre is the Green Coffee Buyer & Head Roaster at Vibe Coffee Group; he has been in the coffee industry for 17 years and has been roasting and buying coffee for 10 years. His favorite way to drink coffee is without anything added, with his wife and two cats.

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