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Quaffee is a real specialist in sourcing and roasting exceptional Latin American coffee and this Ecuadorian microlot is a particularly special example. Ecuador is admittedly a lesser known coffee origin, at least in South Africa. Despite neighbouring Colombia, one of the biggest coffee producers in the world, it only joined its Latin American neighbours in coffee production in the late 19th century. Still, it now produces about 1% of the world's coffee, which is far from insignificant.
Much as it hails from a young coffee producing country, this coffee also hails from a young coffee farm. While Finca Cruz Loma may be a few decades old, Grace Morales Flores, the owner, has only been growing coffee for a few years. The farm actually produces many other crops, primarily fruits and vegetables, but the pursuit of quality has always been important. Five decades ago, Grace's grandfather may have planted the seeds for that pursuit, in more ways than one. Despite a complete absence of roads to transport heavy goods, he was committed to using mechanisation to improve his crops, and actually brought up machinery in small pieces and assembled it onsite. His commitment to improvement made Finca Cruz Loma one of the first farms in the region to benefit from mechanisation.
Today, Grace Morales Flores carries out natural, honey and washed processing with the help of her brother Bryan. While they may be new to coffee, they are clearly ready to experiment, and committed to producing quality lots such as this one.
What is a microlot?
What is a microlot? It it just a small lot? Well, yes, but not exactly. A microlot is indeed a small lot of coffee, but specifically, it's one that has been specially selected and set aside because of particular characteristics of quality. You could think of it as the "best of" a particular harvest from a particular estate or region.
Phaedon's tasting notes
This microlot was a very pleasant surprise. Even though most of the good Ecuadorian coffees that I've tasted over the years have been sourced and roasted by Quaffee, I still wasn't expecting something quite so delicate.
The coffee is wonderfully sweet with a particularly brown-sugar-like quality. In filtered brews, this combined beautifully with a bright, very pleasant acidity, which reminded me of lemons and limes. The overall effect made me think of drinking a caipirinha (albeit a virgin one). Occasionally, I also found a subtle nutty note that only enhanced the experience.
To my palate, this coffee was at its best when paper or cloth filtered. I wouldn't recommend it for unfiltered (or partially filtered) immersion brews, but in a pour-over, siphon or batch brewer, it's quite delightful.
- Characteristics: 4-star complexity with berry fruit, intense sweetness and medium-full body. In espresso, there was a cocoa after-taste.
- Roast: Medium charge with a moderate soak. Followed by medium heat into browning. Heat is then controlled to allow for a minute (or 9.5%) development time from first crack.
- Starting brews:
- Espresso 1:2.3 (28sec)
- AeroPress 15.5g:180g
- Plunger 24g:400g
- Pour over/filter 20g:300g
- Country: Ecuador
- Region: San José de Mina, Pichincha
Farm: Finca Cruz Loma
- Owner: Grace Morales Flores
- Processing: Honey process coffee, with regular agitation. Dried on covered raised patios for 12-15 days.
- Cultivar: Arabica Caturra
- Altitude grown: 1,450 meters above sea level
Transparency information from Quaffee
- Sourced from: Caravela
- FOB price: US$ 7.1 per pound (logistics cost R23.69/kg)
- Cupping score: 86.25
- Producer / organisation: Grace Morales Flores, Finca Cruz Loma
- Lot size bought: 2 x 35kg Caravela, Ecuador vacuum packs
- Relationship: This is our first coffee from this producer