Melon, Mango, Pineapple, Wild Strawberry
- Origin El Salvador
- Region Apaneca-Ilamatepec
- Farm Finca El Salvador
- Producer Rodolfo Ruffatti Batlle
- Variety Red Bourbon
- Processing Honey Kombucha
- Elevation 1650 masl
Finca El Salvador is a 5th generation family farm at the top of Cerro El Aguila, on the north face of the Apaneca-Ilamatepec mountain range. The Bourbon coffee plants are planted around 1650 masl where it’s warm enough to sustain this species. Rodolfo took over from his father a couple of years ago and has focused a lot on bringing in new, exotic varieties like Rume Sudan, SL-28, Tabi and Pink Bourbon.
Rodolfo also spent time on experimental processing with longer cherry or parchment fermentations (anaerobics). One unique experiment Rodolfo has been running for the last 2 year is his Kombucha Honey. The idea was to accentuate the natural acidity & fruitiness of the coffee by fermenting the previously depulped cherries in a tank full of Kombucha with a giant SCOBY floating on top.
In case you are new to this, SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. It’s the weird blob you see floating on top of homemade Kombucha; a living culture made of yeast and bacteria. The yeast eat the sugars and create alcohol. Then the alcohol is eaten by bacteria and turned into acetic acid. So the yeast and bacteria work together in a symbiotic relationship to create a more complex end result with a modified acidity. Coffee cherries with a medium acidity and mellow fruitiness can hence develop more extreme flavors.
Experimenting with fermentation can be tricky though. Poor or uncontrolled fermentation can lead to moldy or phenolic flavors. Lately we have seen a lot of experiments around ‘added yeast coffees’. It’s an open question to what extent non acidic resistant commercial yeast have a chance of surviving in fermenting acidic environments. Do the yeast survive or are they outcompeted by local more robust fermenters? Are the yeast even doing anything good to the coffee? The added-yeast coffees we cupped in the last years had mixed results.
Rodolfo decided on Kombucha fermentation as these quite robust communities of microorganisms would have a higher chance of thriving in a coffee-acidic environment. Kombucha has Saccharomyces cerevisiae (an important yeast for brewing/winemaking) and brings bacteria that will add to the complexity of the yeast’s work. Kombucha needs sugar and tannins to live and coffee cherries provide both. The cherries were depulped before they were added to the tank. The idea being that the microorganisms would consume the mucilage and expose the beans to whatever is happening in the ferment. The beans stayed in the tank for a week. After which they were washed and dried.
So on paper this elaborate process had the potential to add a lot of interesting flavors … and that is definitely what we have found in this cup! Having worked with Rodolfo’s standard honey Red Bourbon, we can say that this processing added a lot more tropical fruit notes. We are tasting a lot of melon & mango and even some pineapple. The acidity has become quite tartaric-like (sparkly!). Try it out!